Panster Help: When Your Story Stalls

English: An airspeed indicator of an aeroplane.

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, then about now things start to slide. The story stalls as you something doesn’t pan out, you hit a dead end, or a character doesn’t work out. These problems may be especially prevalent among pansters – people who write “by the seat of their pants” instead of by an outline. Here are a few tricks to get your story moving again…

Introduce a good guy. This could be a new ally to be won over, a romantic interest, or a relative who comes to live with your main character (to name a few). All of these people – while “good guys” – can complicate the life of your main character. Maybe the person is reluctant, secretive, and/or comes with his or her own agenda.

Add a bad guy. This could be a false ally, a rival (romantic or otherwise), or a new all-out antagonist (just to name a few). All these people have goals that directly oppose those of the main character. Maybe they want the character to fail, or they are in competition for the goal, or they mean well but act at cross-purposes to the main character.

Introduce a subplot. A subplot is a mini-story or event arc that somehow ties into the main story and/or the theme. Subplots begin in the main body of the book and conclude any time from that point to just before (or very rarely just after) the final battle. Subplot ideas can include a romantic subplot between secondary (or primary) characters, the mending of a damaged relationship, or a personal growth arc.

Add a phase in the struggle. This is sometimes known as a “story arc”. In trying to reach the story goal, your main character may try different angles, travel different places, meet different people. Whatever way your story progresses, add another step, another obstacle, another dead end or lesson learned.

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