I was travelling home on the train this evening, got out my trusty pad and pen and began to look at this intractable problem I've been having with Unit X - basically unable to write the end of this big action sequence.
Certain things must happen in this sequence and I just couldn't make them happen in a way that made any sense. I've done step outlining; I've researched maps of German schlosses (castles); (discovered a place that's been converted into expensive apartments - it's beautiful, I could definitely write there); I've made my little card figures; ...
And then, in ten minutes, I realised what the problem was: It wasn't the complexity of the situation at all, it was the behaviour of the characters. The first step was realising why one of the characters had gone down into the cellar. I knew he wanted to go but I had the wrong reason.
So that made part of it cleaner and made one particular scene make a lot more sense.
Then there was the SS Major, it dawned on me that, though he had his orders, he was not a complete idiot and would not face down a squad of armed US soldiers in a corridor. That's just plain stupid. He does not want to die - and neither do I want him to die, at least not there.
#### SPOILER ALERT ####
It's that brilliant moment in "The Princess Bride" where Inigo Montoya finally faces Count Rugen. Inigo has demonstrated his superb sword skills and explained that he's trained all his life for this moment. So Count Rugen does the only sensible thing - he runs away.
The Major runs away, of course he does.
This then puts him in the right place for the next bit, and also allows one of the other characters to be where he needs to be for his bit that has to happen - and so on and so on.
10 minutes work. Excellent. Now I just have to write it.
What's on the turntable? "Tubular Bells, Part 1" by Mike Oldfield from "Tubular Bells" (There's a surprise.)