My WIP has had a major, major problem for a long time: the falling action (the bit between the climax and the conclusion). I blame Past Ruby and her unwillingness to plot stories before writing them.

I’m lousy at conclusions, but the falling action—in this work, anyways—is even worse.

I’ve already had the Big Dramatic Reveal™. Everything’s gone to h*ck in a handbasket. And the conclusion is, if I may say so myself, a thing of beauty—a tenuous hope based on a fragile lie. I realized a long time ago that I have too many ideas to cram into one novel, and this conclusion leaves enough open that the story can be continued in book two.

But before book two can get past the “messy plotting” stage, I need to figure out how to h*ckin’ fix the falling action in book one.

I have two main characters: Beth, the grumpiest grump to ever grump since Ron Swanson, and Winnie, who is actual sunshine. As the story progresses, both of their personalities—grumpy and sunshine-y—are slowly peeled away to reveal more complex characters.

It’s all going pretty well until the falling action, in which Winnie basically falls off the face of the earth for like three weeks. This sort of thing would make sense if they didn’t live in a house in the MIDDLE OF H*CKING NOWHERE.

Winnie can’t just disappear. It makes no sense, and I miss her erratic, headstrong behavior. But Beth is the main main character, and she needs a little time in the spotlight. She needs to be the one to save the day.

The plot has slumped—and, worse, it’s slumped in a way that makes no sense.

They say that the best way to fix a plot slump is to cause major trouble, so that’s what I’m trying.

Gone is the three-week lapse. I’m pitching these characters overboard with no warning and no floaties, and Beth’s just going to have to figure out how to get herself and her cousin back onto the boat.

It’s really stressful to decide to change the falling action this late in the game. This is why you plot your story before you start, guys. I started writing The Infection of Elizabeth Bishop three years ago, back when plotting was for losers. I only got serious about it maybe a year and a half ago (maybe two years ago? I don’t really remember), and since then I’ve been struggling to solve the problems that Past Ruby created with her pantser approach to writing.

I h*ckin’ hate Past Ruby right now. The only good news is that she eventually becomes Present Ruby and wises up.

Those are all my thoughts—now I want to hear yours!

What problems have your past writer selves caused? How do you go about cleaning up their messes?