I’ve often discussed the different approaches to creating the plot of your novels, from Pantsing (yay!) to Plotting (10 GOSUB 20), to Plantsing, which is, in my humble opinion, the only way to go. I’m a Pantser by nature, but a Plantser by professional necessity. Sometimes you just have to stop what you’re doing and Plot out a little, no matter how much fun Pantsing is.
Sometimes, though, you’ll find yourself in a scenario like this: You have at the center of your plot a pretty amazing feat. Maybe it’s a locked-room murder with an elegant, brilliant solution or a plot twist that will give people whiplash in the best possible way. The problem? You have no idea what the actual solution is. You have the greatest set up in history, you just have no idea how it works.
Some would assume you have to figure that part out before you start writing. Me, being Day Drunk and unconcerned with things like propriety or making sense in first drafts, I say you Leeroy Jenkins that son of a bitch.
If you were alive and online a few years ago you might have heard about Leeroy Jenkins, who was a member of a World of Warcraft guild. Faced with a huge number of enemies, the guild was resolved to take them on for Leeroy, who needed something from the area. While Leeroy was away from his computer making dinner, the guild constructs a complex, intricate plan in order to give them a chance against overwhelming odds. Then Leeroy comes back to his computer and, ignorant of the plan, just charges in, shouting his own name as a battle cry. The intricate plan falls apart and the entire guild is killed as a result.
Leeroy has become shorthand for a stupid charge into certain death—which is exactly what you should do if you have a premise that’s super cool but you can’t figure out.
Really, what’s your downside? You might write a lot of words that lead nowhere. Don’t even pretend you haven’t done that before, many times. This time, do it intentionally. If you have no idea how your protagonist committed the clever murder, or how you’re going to work the reveal that the hero is actually the evil mage everyone is fighting against, just dive in. Keep writing. Write what you have figured out, and hope to hell you get the rest by the time you run out of blacktop.
Will it work? Damned if I know. I myself am rocking probably 50% on that score. But it’s always illuminating, and if you don’t figure it out, the idea wasn’t all that great to begin with.