John Elizabeth Stintzi Recommends...

I often find, while stuck in the mire of a book—when progress feels stalled—the best thing I can do is to teleport through space and time to a different part of the story. You may not think you have the power to teleport through space and time, but I’m here to unlock that skill for you, and recommend that you use it. With my second novel, My Volcano, I performed this space-time teleportation very liberally, writing much of the narrative this way. I’d sit down with whatever bizarre premise excited me most at that moment, then write it out and let future me find the place for it. When I reached the endgame on the first full draft of my first novel, Vanishing Monuments (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020), I went so far as to write down the scenes I knew I needed on pieces of paper, and then pulled two or three at random from a jar each day to write whichever sounded like the most fun (aka the easiest).

It can sometimes feel like cheating, and in some ways it is, to skip the hard part that’s holding you back and write the future—whether that’s a scene from the next chapter, or even the book’s final pages. But if you’re like me and avoid rigid outlining—because it kills the creativity for me—teleporting into and writing the future can be the next best thing, showing you the path forward for those places where you’re stuck while those future scenes shine like beacons in the work.

And don’t worry, you can still change the future when you get there. Fiction isn’t an immutable prophecy, and nothing is set in stone but stone.
—John Elizabeth Stintzi, author of My Volcano (Two Dollar Radio, 2022)