I spent most of today looking for a third arc and realized I’d written myself into a corner. I had two viewpoint characters, neither of whom I immediately wanted to give a second arc to, and then a few others who could only be promoted to viewpoint characters if I found some way to get them involved in the story. The problem was, the story’s actual plot was both secret and hard to access. I got through the first bit of the outline for my third arc revolving around a secondary character who was going to be promoted to viewpoint protagonist, and then realized that I was basically just copying my second arc with only some tiny tweaks. I tried promoting one of the only characters who already had full and regular access to the actual plot to viewpoint character, but it didn’t take long into the outline for that before I realized that he didn’t really have anything to do with all these characters.
And this is the point when I realized that I had written myself into a corner. Bringing new characters into the plot was too difficult. Old characters had already resolved an arc and didn’t have anywhere to go without further monumental upheaval. And I was constantly haunted by the fact that I’d really only created enough characters to serve the outline that lasted me only for my first 12,000-ish words, and that honestly I’m not super thrilled by any setting in which I cannot give my characters a submachine gun.
I wrestled with the idea of starting a completely new and different plot for a while, one that would be detached from the two biggest stumbling blocks of this one: Very few characters had a motivation to get involved with any kind of actual plot, and the plot was hard to reach which meant characters needed a powerful motivation to get there. Ultimately, with just a few hours left in the day, I took the characters I had sketched out, decided to forego finishing the actual plot outline (I really only had a very basic concept, and that selected largely on auto-pilot), stuck the characters on a hostile spaceship, and told them to get off of it before I killed them.
I’ve gotten to 32,473 out of 35,000 with this method. We’ll see if it pans out long term.