I'm back -- and the rule of 20


Written on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 by haleigh

Tuesday June 30, 2009

I'm back from a very long week of traveling and school, and am soooo happy to be home. But I also learned a ton, most of which will hopefully make it's way onto my blog over the next couple weeks.

So today's great little tidbit - the rule of 20. This is from an article Debbie Macomber wrote, which was generously passed on to me by a very awesome class-mate.

The rule of 20:

If you're stuck (and this works for anything -- for motivations, conflicts, plots, etc), list 20 possible options.

The first five will be ones we've all seen over and over again in novels

The last five will be too absurd to put in a novel

The middle ten, however, will be bursting with possibilities. And chances are, one of them will set your imagination off and point you in the right direction.

So I gave this a shot. I'm a at a point in my WIP where I knew what had to come next, but not how to get there. So I took a blank sheet of note paper and wrote across the top, "How do Kersey and Naomi get back to the castle." And I numbered it 1-20 down the side of the page (and felt a bit like I was back in school, taking a pop quiz ;)

So I started jotting down options. And you know what? It worked. The first few were plain and boring, and the things that had been floating around in my head that I knew just weren't quite right. The next few were a bit better. But then the ideas started getting more and more creative until BINGO! I got it.

This is my new "How-to-get-unstuck" trick. Hope it helps!

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  1. Jessica |

    I've heard of this before, but have been too lazy to try it. *guilty grin*
    Next time I get stuck I need to boot myself into gear and give it a shot. :-) Thanks for the tip!

  2. cameron |

    LOL Jessie! I need to get myself into gear too - hopefully this will help us both!

  3. Kelly Krysten |

    Oh, I am at the point of knowing what happens but not actually knowing how. And now I'm thinking maybe I don't know how it happens all that well either.Ugh!

  4. cameron |

    Kel - I think we're at the same point :) Hope you've gotten unstuck (and sorry I'm so late!)

  5. Mike Arnzen |

    I like the rule of 20. There's truth in that notion that first thing in your mind is probably a cliche, the last thing probably a stretch. Good advice!

  6. cameron |

    Hi Mike :)

    It was Sharon Mignerey who passed on that little gem in a workshop this residency. Isn't it excellent! I love that it reminds me to keep think of ideas past the cliches that always come to mind.

  7. plumfanatic |

    Awesome, I need that little bit of advice right now. I'm at that point and struggling. I keep thinking but never taking the time to write down my thoughts this way (or at all for that matter. I'm sure this will get me going again. Thanks!

  8. Jessica |

    Hey girl, how's everything going?


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