Remove the Corner

This weekend, I hit the largest wall that I’ve encountered while writing my novel, The Beast of Rose Valley. The plot had culminated in a single scene that just didn’t make sense the way I had it planned. There was no escaping it. I had written myself into a corner.

If I wrote what I had intended, readers would have surely thrown up their hands in disgust. It would have made no sense. It would have been illogical. It wouldn’t have been in keeping with the actions of one of the primary characters. All of the goodwill I might have garnered with my readers may well have been lost in a single chapter.

It was stressful. I furiously paced. I burned calories in pure thought. There were discussions with the wife. I couldn’t rewrite the whole book. Too much of it had led to this point.

Recently, my wife forwarded me an article by Jennifer Kitses. In it, she discusses overcoming her hurdles with finishing a crime novel she was working on. There was a lot of good advice in her article, but the last section was the most relevant to me right now.

She talks about writing oneself into a corner and relays some advice she once heard from Lisa Unger. The advice — you can’t write yourself into a corner. You just remove the corner.

It’s such great advice. The characters and plot often take charge and direct my story, but at the end of the day it is my room. I built the corner. I can remove it.

I had forgotten that I had read that article. As I paced and worried, it was my wife who remembered. She didn’t have the solution to my problem, but she said the best thing she could have — remove the corner.

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