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Posts Tagged ‘when in doubt’

when in doubt

I have this tag for posts, “when in doubt.” It refers to the old writer’s axiom, “when in doubt, send in a man with a gun.” Not literally a guy with a gun, necessarily, but something to shake up the plot, jolt you out of whatever rut you’re stuck in or route you around whatever wall you’re facing, and make it possible to move on with the story (in a more interesting fashion, hopefully).

Well, right now I have a bit of plot I need to figure out and haven’t yet, plus I’m exhausted from waking up at 4 a.m. (Thanksgiving travel, how I hate thee). So I sat down and thought, “okay, I can splice in this bit, and hopefully that will get me up to my word count for the day, but a) it’s going to be hard work with my brain this dead and b) I don’t know where I’m going after that.”

Instead, I gave a character malaria.

When in doubt, send in a mosquito with P. falciparum.


For once, I’m finishing work at 2 a.m. instead of starting. And nearly eighteen hundred words tonight, no less, in two work sessions.

And I even had some fun. When in doubt, throw in a walking death-omen who really wants to say hi to one of the protagonists.


[EDIT: At the advice of my commenters, I’m putting in a notice that this is a post about revision, not politics. I’ve apparently given a few people minor heart attacks already, before they got far enough in to figure out what I was talking about.]

I said it all the way back in July: “When in doubt, throw in an assassination attempt.”

Now, the attempt in question ended up being canceled, but I think putting one in elsewhere may in fact be the solution to one of my problems.

Send in a man with a gun. I don’t think I’ll have an actual gun, but the advice still holds. Funny how this whole “learning your craft” thing involves coming around to the basic lessons over and over and over again.

uh . . . .

A sentence that really did just come out of my mouth:

“When in doubt, throw in an assassination attempt.”

Next year, when y’all are reading this book, and somebody tries to kill a character partway through Part II, you’ll know why: the rest of my plans for the scene just weren’t entertaining me enough.