Wednesday, May 6, 2015


by Clare O'Donohue

Q: What's the worst corner you've ever written yourself into and how did you get out again?

It's been said many times but writers often divide themselves up into planners (those folks who outline their books before writing chapter one) and the pantsers (those who start typing and see where it goes).

I consider myself a "plan-tser". I don't outline, and I don't know who the killer will be, but I do have some basic ideas of where I'm headed. I stop and start, writing a few chapters just to see who I'm dealing with, then I stop and think, figure out a path for the next few chapters and go forward.

Basically, I write myself into corners every other day, then spend time trying to figure my way out.

Those corners are the most frustrating and most fun part of the whole process. They're like roller coasters - they're only pretend scary because even in the worst moment I know my books aren't being streamed live as I write them. If I'm really  in a pickle, I can back up and take another route.

Of course, I don't really want to do that because that means leaving hours, sometimes days, of work on the edit floor. But I know I can, and that makes  getting out of a corner more a puzzle than a predicament.

Sometimes I go back and add in something - a piece of information, a motivation, a phone call in the night - something that makes this "corner" problem feel more organic. Sometimes I leave it there, unfixed, and move forward. It's amazing how my subconscious will work on it to solve the problem for me, weaving it into the story as I go.

Often I find those obstacles I created turned out to be the best part of the story for me.  And then I pat myself on the back, temporarily think I'm a genius, and celebrate - until the next time.

1 comment:

Meredith Cole said...

You're so right, Clare. There's nothing like writing yourself into a corner--and getting free--to make you feel like a genius!