Painted myself into a corner... now what?


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Thread: Painted myself into a corner... now what?

  1. #1

    Painted myself into a corner... now what?

    Hi Forum,
    I am writing a novel and I got myself stuck.
    It's a satirical sci/fi, adventure, romantic comedy with pirates, villains, billionaires, kung-fu fighting, a love triangle, a mega yacht and lots of over-the-top exploits and characters.
    It's been a hell of a lot of fun to write, and at first what I had was a novella with a pretty tidy ending.
    I asked a friend who is an editor to read it and she said check out "Writing the Break Out Novel". I read it, and then I re-wrote my whole book. It's now tracking to be about 350 pages.

    In the process of making things worse and worse for my characters and raising the stakes, I got myself to where the only plausible way out for my main protagonist is to send her to trial for attempted murder while her boyfriend is either in a coma or suffering from amnesia (it's a little soap-opera-y and I'm okay with that).

    Here's my problem: I have no interest in writing a courtroom drama, and I'm mad at myself for getting myself here, because it isn't fun anymore, and I'm not sure if I can actually write my way out of this. As a result I've been a little bummed out about it and haven't been able to move anything forward.

    So... now what?
    Thanks for input!
    Sam
    Last edited by Samanmoran; October 23rd, 2020 at 05:08 PM.

  2. #2
    Three words- Bribes, Corruption & Blackmail

  3. #3
    HA! Yes, absolutely... we have those in spades. In fact that's how my character Haley got here. The villain wants the deed to her mom's property. Mom won't give it up, so he manipulated the situation and had his buddy the DA put the daughter on trial for attempted murder.
    I know how it will end: at the last possible second, Mom and her crew will swoop into the courtroom with incontrovertible proof of Haley's innocence and villain's guilt. She will be acquitted and villain hauled away in cuffs.
    I guess I just don't feel like writing the whole courtroom part.
    The novel has been hilarious and action-packed up until now, and I just don't have any ideas for how to make the courtroom any fun.
    Maybe I can just skip over the whole proceeding and go straight to the end?

  4. #4
    Speed up the courtrom scene- It's a kangaroo court anyway- Mom has evidence of connection with Villain & Judge. Tells Judge "either we work out a deal, or..." Judge can't afford his indiscretions to become public, confesses to everything, makes deal, foils Villain. "Now, about those incriminating photos/evidence?"

    Mom says "What photos/evidence?" Grabs Villain by the tie, plants wet one on his lips. "Pick me up at 7." Smiles and flounces out.

    Or, skip the courtroom scene and cut to AAR (after action report). When Mom makes final exit, she winks and says "Villain is picking me up at 7."

    Or, do what a real writer does- Bite the bullet and do the work.

    Just disrupt the courtroom with the chaos you've already created.

  5. #5
    Yes! Ok, very helpful. Thank you very much.
    For what it's worth, here's what I have:
    On the day the verdict is to be delivered, Mom's comrades (a gang of Tai Chi fighting widows) have staged a huge demonstration in the streets outside the governor's mansion demanding justice for Haley with the intention of pinning down the governor who is up for re-election in 10 days. They've got him on the ropes and he's just about to promise a pardon if Haley is found guilty when in a twist, a video is discovered of the villain attempting to extort Mom in the first place. In the video he gives away the whole show. 3 of the widows rush into the courtroom at the last second with a TV (the big kind from 20 years ago) and a VCR. Hilarity ensues, the video is displayed and the jurors who never felt very good about the situation from the beginning, gleefully deliver a verdict of not guilty.

    Enraged villain physically attacks daughter, Mom Tai Chis his ass and he ends up dragged out in cuffs by a sympathetic cop who knew Haley was innocent all along.

    So... the action at the end is huge and fast and hilarious, and that's where I want to be.

    I guess I'm stuck because up until now the pacing has been things happening one after another each day for a period of about 5 days; to skip ahead to the end of the trial feels like I'm tearing a big hole out of the chronology.
    There is other stuff that needs to happen in the interim involving the love triangle, and a McGuffin which I need time to develop so it can't come to an immediate close anyway...
    I guess I could write all that stuff and ignore the fact that she's on trial, then go back and fit in a few sentences here and there that tie it together and hope no one notices?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Samanmoran View Post
    Yes! Ok, very helpful. Thank you very much.
    For what it's worth, here's what I have:
    On the day the verdict is to be delivered, Mom's comrades (a gang of Tai Chi fighting widows) have staged a huge demonstration in the streets outside the governor's mansion demanding justice for Haley with the intention of pinning down the governor who is up for re-election in 10 days.
    I think the TCW should have the governor on the ropes inside his mansion. Governor sent his wife off to a two week stay at the spa. Demonstration involves lingerie, furry handcuffs, whipped cream, booze and- surprise, surprise! Video camera

    if Haley is found guilty when in a twist, a video is discovered of the villain attempting to extort Mom in the first place. In the video he gives away the whole show. 3 of the widows rush into the courtroom at the last second with a TV (the big kind from 20 years ago) and a VCR. Hilarity ensues, the video is displayed and the jurors who never felt very good about the situation from the beginning, gleefully deliver a verdict of not guilty.
    The strut into the courtroom, looking good escorting Mom who is holding the tape/thumb drive/what have you. Mom asks for a recess and and a meeting in the judge's chambers. When the Judge threatens to hold her in contempt, Mom leans over the judge's podium and says "It's about Mimi", or in a cutesy voice, says "Poor little me has come to throw herself on the mercy of the court." Judge pales/turns red and says "Fifteen minute recess."

    Once in the chambers, Mom says "I have everything." Judge breaks and spills the beans and promises to clean up the mess to keep evidence from becoming public. Says "What evidence?" and makes her exit.

    Kicker- Mom was bluffing the whole time. But you don't let on to the readers "was she, or wasn't she?"


    So... the action at the end is huge and fast and hilarious, and that's where I want to be.
    "Who let these women in the courtroom? Ladies, put some clothes on- this is a court of law!"
    "Your Honor, the prosecution objects!"
    "Mmm! The defense doesn't..."
    "I WILL HAVE ORDER IN THE COURT"
    "Bailiff, you're cute. You can slap the cuffs on me anytime."
    "I saw him first!"
    "DON'T LOOK ETHEL!"
    "Don't you look, Henry!"
    ...and so on

    I guess I'm stuck because up until now the pacing has been things happening one after another each day for a period of about 5 days; to skip ahead to the end of the trial feels like I'm tearing a big hole out of the chronology.
    You're probably right. Or, it could be a pause that has your readers wondering "WHAT HAPPENED?"


    There is other stuff that needs to happen in the interim involving the love triangle, and a McGuffin which I need time to develop so it can't come to an immediate close anyway...
    I guess I could write all that stuff and ignore the fact that she's on trial, then go back and fit in a few sentences here and there that tie it together and hope no one notices?
    Craft it right. If you don't, somebody will notice. That's the wonderful thing about writing. It's not carved in stone until they print the book

  7. #7
    Read a few Perry Mason books. Often Gardner's trial scenes are only a few pages long, and they are generally quite humorous while he's making monkeys out of witnesses and DAs.

    One thing I've learned for myself is to not write things I don't want to write. If it's the climax to your whole story, it's hard to avoid, but I think it's a poor choice to make the climax to your whole story something you don't want to write. Back up and take it a different direction. You're the writer. Making the story fun, original, and MAKE SENSE is a combination of privilege, responsibility, and gift to you. Always make that count.

  8. #8
    That's a great idea. I've actually been watching anything I can stream for free with courtroom scenes, including some Perry Mason, but reading such would obviously be better!

    I am open to suggestions for another way out of this situation, but for the past several months, I keep coming back to putting the character on trial .
    Here's how we got here:

    Haley's mom owns some land. Villain wants it and tries to buy it for cheap, then extort her to no avail. Haley foolishly helps a handsome bad boy recover a prize that also delivers the same villain an upset. She believes that dealing the villain a blow will get him to lay off Mom, but her ulterior motive is also to impress bad boy. She expects bad boy's never ending gratitude, and to walk away in triumph, but in a twist, villain holds gun to Haley's head if bad boy doesn't give up prize. Bad boy skedaddles instead leaving Haley to her fate. Haley's actual boyfriend saves the day and gets shot. Haley ends up shooting the villain in self defense, not fatally.

    And now for how we end up at the courtroom drama:

    Haley is apprehended, but not arrested yet, by police at the scene of the shooting, bad boy is gone and real boyfriend is in a coma.
    Next day villain is recovered enough and uses this opportunity to attempt to extort Haley's mom's property again, only now he has Haley as a bartering chip.
    He is in a good-old-boy club with the DA, Judge and Governor, and is a major donor to all their campaigns. The election is in 10 days.
    Villain uses his influence to guarantee Haley will be put on trial for attempted murder unless Mom gives up property.

    Mom has a big decision to make: her land or her daughter. It's not so simple for Mom because her land is also the home of her companions, the gang of Tai Chi fighting widows. Mom and daughter have an intense moment and Haley decides to face the music and spare her mom the sacrifice.

    *****

    It's a central theme of the book that mother and daughter need to make tremendous sacrifices for one another, so it's important that this choice becomes so stark.
    If there is another way to really force the situation and get Haley and Mom into that place where sacrifices have to be made, I'd love to go that way instead, but the only idea I can come up with is the potential for the attempted murder wrap and a resulting lengthy sentence.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by MistWolf View Post
    I think the TCW should have the governor on the ropes inside his mansion. Governor sent his wife off to a two week stay at the spa. Demonstration involves lingerie, furry handcuffs, whipped cream, booze and- surprise, surprise! Video camera



    The strut into the courtroom, looking good escorting Mom who is holding the tape/thumb drive/what have you. Mom asks for a recess and and a meeting in the judge's chambers. When the Judge threatens to hold her in contempt, Mom leans over the judge's podium and says "It's about Mimi", or in a cutesy voice, says "Poor little me has come to throw herself on the mercy of the court." Judge pales/turns red and says "Fifteen minute recess."

    Once in the chambers, Mom says "I have everything." Judge breaks and spills the beans and promises to clean up the mess to keep evidence from becoming public. Says "What evidence?" and makes her exit.

    Kicker- Mom was bluffing the whole time. But you don't let on to the readers "was she, or wasn't she?"
    Lots of great ideas here. Many thanks. I feel inspired now and think I can get something funny going...
    In fact I think one of my ladies is going to be too shy to visit the adult boutique and will get creative purchasing sexy props from the pet shop. Lots of rubbery pink things to choose from in those places.

  10. #10
    Wait for it to dry - Metaphorically...
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

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