As I've been writing this latest WIP, I'm trying to cover my tracks the best that I can, and I do that by checking and re-checking things along the way. And as I was re-checking some plot issues, I came across this gem that helped with the middle section of my new story.
In Nancy Kress's book Beginnings, Middles, & Ends, she says:
"Instead of forcing yourself to write the next scene, let the keyboard sit idle and invest time in your characters and plot. Scribble notes if you like. Do you understand what your characters want? Could they maybe want something else you've overlooked? What's at stake in their story? Can you raise the stakes? Has the plot come to a standstill? What are some other directions it might take--even seemingly wild directions? Does anything about these scribbled notes excited you? Does that excitement suggest something you might want to write?"
In other words, for me this said: PUSH YOURSELF! Push your plot past the boundaries of what you thought you were capable of writing. Push you characters to their limits, see what they really want, see how far the stakes can go to make them higher.
I've noticed this in TV shows (ahem, the third season of Vampire Diaries, which I just gobbled up) where the characters get stuck in situations and I'm always like how are they going to get out of this one? And the plot always takes twists that I don't expect, and it makes me have to keep watching. At the SCBWI conference in LA last month, Jay Asher said to never give your readers a comfortable place to close the book--you always want to keep amping up the suspense. So I've been trying to do that with my latest WIP.
What are your thoughts? Has your plot taken you places you never thought it would? Do you find that to keep up in the market you have to continually push boundaries, to see what you can accomplish, or does it not even cross your mind? I'd love to know!