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I like to discuss difficult or erroneous plotting or character issues. Though discuss might not be the best term for what I like to do when I run into trouble. It’s more of a talking-at someone.

Here’s what I’ll do:

1) Get the person caught up with all the characters and setting and what’s been happening and what might have happened or what kinds of things are going to possibly happen and who the people are and what kinds of things they’re motivated by, and so on and so on… [This is usually answered with confused stares that attempt to look polite.]

2) Answer questions that all my pronoun usage, non-linear narrative babbling has caused.

3) Pitch my problem and all the reasons why it’s a problem. Usually I’ll state somewhere in there that my story is a mess, that it’s unsalvageable, that I’m a horrible writer, etc. All the boring, melodramatic stuff that spills from our mouths when we’ve hit a figurative wall.

4) Listen and shoot down all the dreadful and no-good ideas that my friend has come up with for me. And/or tell them all the ways those wretched ideas won’t work. [I have a suspicion that there’s a game here they play, to come up with the most wacky, off the wall, ridiculous things just to hear me talk seriously about how their idea isn’t going to work because of X and Y reasons.]

5) Have my epiphany moment.

6) Thank my friend profusely for all they’ve done while they jokingly try to take credit and threaten lawsuits if I use their ‘penguins wielding machine-guns decide to take over the world’ idea. [This is an idea I made up as an example so no lawsuits here. Also, you’re welcome to write that story, though I think Madagascar might have beat you to it in some ways.]

7) Go frantically write everything down.

There’s just something about talking through the problem, getting it out in the open, that helps guide my brain in the right direction. Countering ideas that won’t work force me to explain the depth of the situation, all the whys and hows that are going on that have boxed me in. This allows me to argue for or against certain possibilities in those scenarios.

And somehow or other, all those wrong ideas, all those things that don’t make sense, suddenly spark something in my brain. Connects two points in ways I’d been struggling to for days, maybe even weeks or months.

I’m sure there’s a psychology term that represents how this works, but I don’t need a term. I’m just glad it does work so I don’t remain caught when working through a plot.