Don’t forget “Meanwhile”
It seems like it happens every time I’m stuck in writing a storyline, I keep forgetting my ace in the hole. It happens so often that I have a standing page in my sketchbook that I’ve marked for writing emergencies. It has a single three-word sentence of advice that has ye to let me down…
“Don’t forget ‘Meanwhile…'”
It’s a simple phrase with a simple fix to those moments in which you’re unable to decide what comes next in a storyline. “Meanwhile” allows you to change perspectives and continue the story from another point of view.
It’s hard to know when a scene is over. After all, there’s always something more to say. There’s always one more beat that you can push. But is it for the best? Does that additional moment make the overall story better?
More often than not, that’s when you start to spin your wheels. You could have character A say this or you could have character B do that. Neither sound great. And no other options are presenting themselves.
Speaking from experience, I can spend hours — days — in this writer’s limbo. And when I get truly desperate, I start paging through my sketchbook looking for inspiration, and then I find that “break in case of emergency” page.
And from that moment on, my writing leaps to all sorts of new, fertile places. Meanwhile is versatile. It can take you anywhere. It can lead to anything. It opens a door behind you when you’ve painted yourself into a corner.
It’s too bad we didn’t have Meanwhile in real life. Instead of sitting in line at the DMV, we could Meanwhile ourselves out to the beach. Until then, it’s enough to have it to bail us out of tight spots in our stories.