Portlandia and Writing Myself Into a Corner

This post contains spoilers for Bonds That Break. If you haven’t read the book yet, stop reading now. I mean it! No more reading!

One of the things I love about writing is when I accidentally write myself into a corner and have to figure a way out. This typically happens one of two ways: 1. I change something in my outline that has unintended consequences downstream and creates a problem, or 2. I didn’t think through something well enough, and I run into a problem I don’t know the solution to.

The reason I like this, is that it provides me a challenge and often times results in a cool idea that I otherwise might not have incorporated. This happened to me a couple of times in BTB. Once incident that I want to share has to do with Portlandia. (The statue, not the show .) When I originally outlined these chapters, I knew that Madison needed to go into hiding from the Binder Council. However, once I started writing and thinking about the logistics of what that would mean, I realized that she would need to be completely off the grid. No credit cards, no GPS, or cell phones. But I had already planned for Josiah to kidnap Amy and use her to get Madison to come face him. How would he let her know what he had done and tell her were to go? Problem, right?

I had to think through all the possibilities I could imagine. I came up with the idea of having Josiah do something public that would be sure to get her attention. I could have had him do something really horrible, like kill a bunch of people, but that didn’t feel right to me. It was too crass. Too obvious.

I finally settled on having him vandalize a Portland landmark. I thought about several of them, and talked it over with my wife. She came up with the idea of using the Portlandia Statue. As soon as she said it, I knew it had to be done! And he wasn’t just going to spray paint it or something lame like that, no way. He was going to cut the head off the statue. Beheading a thirty foot statue? THAT would get the city’s attention. Problem solved!

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