A spasm gripped the reeve. She flailed and crashed to her knees, her shoulders trembling, her obsidian hair draping her like a funeral shroud. The Shepherd's vicious voice spilled forth."You cannot stop it. Nothing will stand before the might of the Great Crow. The gate of the Otherworld has yawned wide. Look inside, human, and you will see your death riding to greet you!"
"Thank you," Ghastek said. "Would you join me for some tea and biscuits?"
"Why, don't mind if I do!" said the Shepherd. "Let us have our tea and have us a lovely game of croquet!"
I don't know about you, but things go wrong for me a lot. For example, this morning I put on my new (!) pants I bought at Target. So okay they are a size too big, but that's the only size they had and since I've lost a few pounds, I tend to overestimate the size of my butt. Also they are an inch too long, but that has no bearing on our current situation.
Anyway, back to the pants. New (!) spiffy pants, one of my favorite tops - it's brown but it flatters me for some reason. I woke on the right side of the bed: no bags under my eyes, clear skin, good color. I brush my hair, spray it to cement it in place, and pose dramatically for Gordon.
That's okay. He's trying to get ready for work and not paying attention. "What do you think?"
His lordship gazes upon me with his green eyes and says. "Muhhhm. Looks nice. Can you fix my tie?"
Tie? What do you mean, tie? I have new pants, pretty top, I'm wearing a bra that lifts and separates and I have Pantene hair!
No smooch. No comment on how lovely my butt looks in my new (!) pants.
So okay, he might have been a smidgeon in a hurry to get to work and not feeling especially well, and I might be a tad anal and needy, as I have felt and looked dreadful for the last three days due to a cold. I wanted feedback that reassured me that I'm not the ugliest woman in existence. But the fact remains. Despite my spiffy pants, things have gone Terribly Wrong (tm).
So what happens when things go wrong in writing? Honestly most of the time, it goes wrong because I am being a tad anal, just like above, and wanting the narrative to do something part of me knows is wrong. I'm basically fighting myself.
A lot of times it's the plot. The creative part of me sometimes runs dry and produces a rather drab turn of events, and the critical part of me, which I painstakingly trained to recognize crap, identifies said drab plot element as being a big stinky glob of goo and grinds the whole thing to a halt.
Sometimes you will see writing advice that instructs to turn off the critic while you write. I can't do that. As a result most often my first drafts are pretty much the only drafts I do, because I will not move on until my narrative is where I want it to be. I think it saves me a great deal of time, as I don't redraft the same thing 8-10 times. The side effect of this method is when I'm finished with something, just looking at it makes me want to vomit.
The plot problems are not that hard to identify. After awhile, I recognize when I'm stuck and then I go to his lordship, who brilliantly resolves it. How he does it, I don't know. He just frowns in a manly way, drinks some coffee, and poof, we have plot resolution, accompanied by a celestial radiance and a chorus of Hallelujah.
The character problems are a lot tougher. In the first draft of Magic Burns, which I will never ever show to anyone, Curran was a supreme asshole. It happens. It was a bad book all around. Then I scrapped the whole thing and wrote a new fresh novel, guided by my editor's feedback. From scratch. In four months. (Yes, it was that bad. Things indeed had gone Terribly Wrong (tm) with the first draft.)
As a result of this new draft, Curran was a gentler kinder creature... until Reece, one of generous and kind (I love you all) people who have agreed to read my second novel prior to me stuffing it into the mailbox and running away, until Reece looked at and said, paraphrasing. "Why is he so wimpy compared to the first book?"
Wimpy? Curran? No, no, Curran is Muscles! Wimmens! Honor! Rawr!
So I went back and looked at it... and he was wimpy.
(Oh crap I just recalled that I forgot to email a PDF to a friend. Crap. Crap crappity crap, crap. Things have gone Terribly Wrong (tm) and I will send it to you at lunch!)
Anyhow back to my wimpy Curran. I brought the manuscript to his lordship and asked him, "Hey do you think he is wimpy?"
"Yeah. Here. And right here."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"You seemed very attached to these scenes."
All together now... Things have gone Terribly Wrong(tm).
So I went back and fixed it all to my best ability. And there were many other wrong things that had taken place within that tortured manuscript, which those kind and generous people corrected and pointed out and thought about. So the answer to the question in the title for me is simple: when things go wrong, I try to fix it myself, but if that does not work, I go to my husband, who is my best friend, and to my friends, and they help me drag things back onto the right path. Even if most of the time I am kicking and screaming and exacerbating the problem.
PS. I know you can't see it, but my butt does look nice in my new pants