The blog of author Harper Alexander

Writing Yourself into Corners

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You write yourself into corners sometimes. Big ones, small ones, medium-sized ones. Sometimes they’re the silliest little things, and you agonize over how to get out of them, how to get around them, how to trick them into letting you pass without knowing the password. (I’ve yet to successfully be like, ‘Ha! I tricked you good, didn’t I, Corner?!’ and continue on my merry flouncing way, unimpeded). And sometimes, if you’re smart enough (smarter than I tend to be), you realize you don’t have to.

Today’s example: this character has been running across a danger-filled fantasy island of sorts, trying to get to shore so she can get back on board a certain ship that serves as a safe haven. I pretty much put her through hell, had to come up with clever ways for her to navigate back toward the vague location of the ship, and even threw in some luck for how she ended up pinpointing the thing. Only to realize once she did, there are certain impediments I already established in the water keeping her from swimming the last few dozen yards to safety. And it’s night time, and the shore is too dark for anyone on board to see her, and she can’t stand there yelling and waving her arms to get their attention lest she attract some of the aforementioned dangers from inland.

So I’ve been sitting here for far too long agonizing over how in the heck she’s going to get on board that ship, when it suddenly dawned on me – maybe she doesn’t. Maybe she sits down in utter defeat, plagued by the exhaustion and injuries acquired by getting to that point, and maybe she succumbs to unconsciousness right then and there. Maybe it’s okay for her to collapse just shy of reaching her safe haven. Maybe it’s okay for her to simply…sleep on the beach that night. And either it presents an opportunity for her to get into more trouble, or it’s just freaking realistic.

Sometimes it’s okay to be realistic. Let’s be honest; there are probably far too many instances that you’re not.

(Turns out, in this instance, it sets the stage better for the next scene in my book anyway. Who knew?)

Back to writing!…

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