I went running again yesterday morning. There are a number of trails that criss-cross not far from where I’m staying; I think I’ve explored most of the ones that are in easy reach, and I was running along one that I’d already traveled so I wasn’t expecting to see anything out of the ordinary like I did the last time.
Turns out I was wrong.
If you look closely at that photo (you might need to click on it to enlarge), you’ll see that I ran into an unexpected walker on the trail. The deer and I stood there staring at each other for a short while, and she didn’t seem inclined to go anywhere. (Blackberries have been in season, so I couldn’t blame her.) Luckily, I was able to backtrack a short distance and take a side path up to a parallel trail.
Naturally, I was thinking about how writing can be like that. Sometimes you get to a point where you can’t move forward, or at least you’re not sure how. What should you do? Throw a deer in your path. Not literally, but give your characters something unexpected to deal with. Where do they go from there?
Like me in the middle of my run, they might be able to work their way around to where you were trying to get them in the first place. And they might see something interesting when they get there: In my case, it was two deer standing at the top of a hill overlooking the trail where I was running.