In my revisions, I built an ever-increasing word count that bordered on gluttonous, and it eventually ran my story into the ground. Kind of like this:
For days, I hemmed over how to jump start everything into gear. The answer came when I helped a student hone in on her research paper thesis. I told her a mantra from my own papers: "Stick to your thesis like glue."
I realized my novel's thesis was my synopsis and query, and I hadn't stuck to them at all. Notes and changes were spread across multiple documents, and there was a story thread that didn't need to be there. That's what was blocking my path.
Here's how I got myself untangled:
Step 1: Revised query and synopsis to reflect new story directions, and stuck to it like glue
Step 2: Condensed proposed story changes into a manageable to-do list
Step 3: Sliced out extra story threads that didn't belong
So far, I've been able to subtract 4,000 words, and I now have a clear path to the end:
I hope, whether you're doing NaNo WriMo, or if you're buried in revisions like I am, that you can stick to your query and synopsis (or outline, if that's your preference). Especially if you find your plot tangled or your story stalled. Letting go of what you don't need makes everything a ton easier.
Your turn: What are some ways you've tamed your unruly plots?