What do you do when you can’t get back into the mindset of the original plot for your novel?

That’s my dilemma for the day regarding Romance Novel 2 (RN2). Its plot is pictured below–in its current incarnation, at least.


And it’s not exciting me at all.

I’m someone who depends a certain amount on outlines, regardless of the kind of writing I’m doing, I may deviate from them as a project develops, but then I’ll still usually go back and revise them to make sure I’m on track rather than flailing around or wandering off into a swamp.

(Not that I don’t do my share of swamp-wandering anyway, mind you.)

My outlines may be graphs with key points of rising and falling action, such as the example here for fiction.

Or they may be less visual and more verbal, as in the case with literary nonfiction or academic prose.

But I do usually have an idea of where I’m headed before I begin.

I think one of my challenges for this book is going to be to let myself loosen my stranglehold on outlines and to deepen my familiarity with my own characters. In my first romance novel, I was painting by numbers a bit, as I’ve already said, and sometimes it felt to me as if I were simply moving my characters like chess pieces through key positions on the through-line of the plot.

That’s all very well and good, but even in genre fiction such as romance with strong conventions — and perhaps even more in genre fiction — character has to carry the day in order for a story to come alive. Otherwise everything is lackluster, dry. Why keep reading?

Can I ease up on that a little, risk more, and go with my gut feelings from time to time, without having to see developments mapped or written out in black and white all the time?

I wish this question were merely rhetorical. It’s going to be hard for me to rely less on my writing crutches.





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