What Next Worksheet

Occasionally, we get stuck when we’re writing. The two characters in your scene haven’t interacted in exactly the way you wanted them to and now the bank job is delayed. Or the wedding. Or someone didn’t get murdered properly. Whatever it was that ought to have happened, you’re not sure how to get back on track. So, what next? Here’s a worksheet that may help.

What Next Worksheet
What Next Worksheet

The idea is to fill out as much of the information as you can – the section of the last scene, for example, should be fairly straightforward (just make sure it’s the last relevant scene) – and then use what you know to work out the bits that you don’t. For example, if your characters are facing a locked door, they may need a crowbar or lock picks to progress. Is there a good place to insert such an object into the scene? And if you found lock picks next to the door you were trying to get through, would you think that it may be a little too convenient? There are perfectly acceptable ways you can make this happen, but most of them involve the antagonist beating your protagonist through the door.

One of the problems I have when writing is that if I’ve spent too long trying to write a scene, it feels wrong to delete it all. IGNORE THAT FEELING. And maybe avoid it altogether by using the scenario section of this worksheet. Don’t spend two hours writing a scene where Protagonist A breaks into a bank only to realise it’s more effective for Protagonist B to blackmail her insurance broker. Draft a few scenarios first, see which one works the best and concentrate on writing that!

Sometimes, you already have all the pieces, you’ve just forgotten about them (next week’s worksheet will be on tracking your characters and their inventories, so stay tuned for that). In cases like these, it can help to mix up the characters or setting of your scene a) to help jog your memory about that skeleton key Minor Character C has been holding and b) to get a fresh perspective on your scene.

As always, don’t stress over it and enjoy!

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