NaNoWriMo Tip #16: How to get out of “paragraph paralysis.”

Indiana Jones
You've written your hero into a cave, and he can't get out.

Or maybe he's hit a wall. Or hanging from a cliff.

In any event, you've put him in a corner, surrounded by bad guys, in every direction.

Now, you're stuck — both literally and creatively.

To quote former Republican presidential candidate and subsequently Dancing with the Stars hopeful, Rick Perry, Ooops.”

This is what I call “paragraph paralysis.

Let me put it this way: If you were Stan Laurel and I was Oliver Hardy, now is when I'd turn to you and say, “Well Stanley, here's another fine mess you've gotten us into!”


Laurel and Hardy: “The Piano” video. Click to play.

One of the most notorious solutions to paragraph paralysis that I can recall occurred on the television show, Dallas. Whereas the Season  7 cliffhanger had one of the characters, Bobby Ewing, killed off, it's revealed at the beginning of Season 9 that ALL of Season 8 was just a bad dream happening to his wife, Pam. (And the viewers, I'm presuming.)

Okay, I feel your pain. I get that you're freaked out. Like your hero, you've come to a complete stop.

Here's how you (and he–or her, as the case may be) can get out of that hole:

1. Remember: In your novel, you are GOD.
That means you can move mountains, both literally and figuratively. If he's in a cave, maybe it has a false wall, or ceiling, or floor. Help him find it.

2. Think outside of the box/cave/cliff/wall/bridge.
There is a reason why today's illustrative photo is of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom bridge. Quite frankly, my example could have been taken from any of the Indy movies, since he's always stuck somewhere. In this case, there were bad guys on all sides, and no plane or helicopter to swoop down and save him–

But he had his trusty machete.

And he knows how to swing it!

So there you go: a solution. If you just hang in there, he (and you) will survive, and live to see another chapter.

3. Rewrite your scene, so that you are more comfortable with it.
This untenable position may be your subconscious telling you, “I don't know where I'm going with this (page/chapter/story). If so, it's time that you revisit the full outline of your plot. If something isn't working now, it will affect your plot down the road. The sooner you make the change, the better. (After you've written the day's 1,650 words, of course.)





I've got a question for you, and be honest: Have you ever left a character out on a ledge? Did you come back to save him, or is he still out there?

Yes, you will survive National Novel Writing Month,

— Josie

Stranger than Fiction: Author William Dietrich is right. Before Hitler came to power, no editor would have believed such evil existed.

Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Janet Rudolph gives great salon.

Last night 'round dusk, much of the San Francisco Bay Area enjoyed sunshine and balmy breezes, but it was a darkening and foggy night as I zigzagged around Berkeley Terrace's Fish Ranch Road toward Janet''s house, where she and her husband, Frank, hold ongoing salons for the murderati: readers and writers of mysteries and thrillers.

What nudged me across the Bay was the chance to meet one of my all-time favorite authors: William Dietrich, whose novels include the historical adventure/thriller series starring the Indiana Jones-like hero, Ethan Gage (Napoleon's Pyramids, The Rosetta Key, The Dakota Cypher,  The Barbary Pirates). Okay, admittedly, there is also a bit of Candide and Tom Jones in Nathan, as he's always getting himself into trouble when he should know better. Take your pick, he's a  rounder/roue/rogue.

And that's part of the fun. He may be as naughty as Casanova, but when the fate of the world is as stake, he's as honorable as Indy.  The books' ironic humor and edge-of-the-seat plots which are seeped in history and mystic lore keep Mr. Dietrich's fans such as myself pining for the next volume.

But don't take my word for it. Pick up the series for yourself.

Blood of the Riech Or better yet, start with his latest novel, Blood of the Reich. It's a stand-alone which steps away from Ethan to introduce a whole set of new characters: zoologist Jonathan Hood, Aviatrix Beth Calloway, PR girl Friday Rominy Pickett. Its jaw-dropping plot weaves three moments in time into a lanyard of intrigue and deceit involving Tibet, the Cern Supercollider, and yes: NAZIS.

"Why haven't your books been turned into movies?" one salon regular asked.

Great question.

Indiana Jones was the inspiration for Ethan Gage. Here's hoping that Bill Dietrich inspires Steven Spielberg – or perhaps the renowned director's latest protoge, J.J. Abrams – to take it on as a film series. Frankly, these stories are just as thrilling, and are instilled with a heckuva lot more history and humor.

It's a perfect movie franchise: complex and witty.

In other words, great FOR ADULTS.


— Josie

HAH Hanging Man V2

Murder. Suspense. Sex. 
And some handy household tips.

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