Pretzel Knots


I’ve learned something interesting about myself by writing this current manuscript.

While I’m not rigid, I’m not as flexible as I thought I was.

In general conversation with some friends, I mentioned that I needed a clever way to track the culprits taking potshots at car tires in Aspen Falls. Not ballistics. That’s too common. Something else. One friend got a devilish gleam in his eye and told me had just the thing.

So I took The Thing, and assuming it viable, researched how to make it happen. I learned about different tools and techniques and access and wrote and wrote and wrote. As you know, you do way more hours of research than actually make it into your story, but I bet there’s a good 7500-10000 words that have been written based on The Thing, or at least surrounding The Thing.

Which, as I recently discovered, isn’t. It isn’t The Thing. It isn’t A Thing.

It isn’t anything.

Some people, finding themselves twisted into a pretzel and knowing they have a significant rewrite ahead of them, would simply untwist the pretzel and delete the words, no matter how much time and effort and story had gone into them. I’ve never had a problem with killing my darlings, but somehow I couldn’t do this.

Some people could say, “Oh, I’ll come back and clean that up later. It’s not the main piece of the story. No problem.” They’d put The Thing in a drawer and, when they were finished with the rest of the draft, pull it out of the drawer and deal with it.

But mentally, rather than focus on pliable dough and “there’s more words where those came from” I found myself focused on the knot. This knot in my pretzel was hard and twisty and mocking.

And I was paralyzed. I knew I needed to slice out the knot and figure out what to do with the pretzel bits before I could move on. My desk doesn’t have drawers for a reason.

I asked for another solution. It’s totally not as sexy as The Thing. But it is a means to an end.

I learned that when Peg the Paralyzed Pretzel turns up, there’s no getting around it until I cut out the knot.

Have you experienced surprising paralysis? A pretzel knot that you can’t work around?


It’s all better with friends.



Author: Peg Brantley

With the intent to lend her stories credibility, award winning author Peg Brantley is a graduate of the Aurora Citizens’ Police Academy, attended the Writers’ Police Academy conference, has interviewed crime scene investigators, FBI agents, human trafficking experts, obtained her Concealed Carry Permit, studied diverse topics from arson dogs to Santeria, and hunted down real life locations that show up in her stories.

16 thoughts on “Pretzel Knots”

  1. Most certainly. I never thought of it as a pretzel knot, but that’s exactly what it is. I looked at the knot from different angles, move it around, adjust it, ask for help from my writer’s critique group, and let it alone for a while. Then I try again. I some point I have to decide what to do, let it go, and trust myself. It’s never easy, but it’s part of being a writer. Great blog post, Peg!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I ran into one this week–your topic is timely for me! I had to back off a scene that I was looking forward to. I untwisted and retwisted and it’s not a different shape, but it’ll work a lot better.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s one of the wonderful things about our community. While we may think we’re alone with a struggle, all we have to do is reach out and suddenly we find out the struggle is shared. Makes it a lot easier!


  3. I can so relate! I had “sewn” in some problems in my last manuscript, which meant ripping it out at the seams…and repairing the resulting frays. It’s hard not to panic a little when those things happen. Thank GOODNESS for our community and for the wisdom in trusting the process!


  4. That gives me sweaty palms just thinking about it. I know you’ve heard me say this 17 gazillion times, but that’s why I have to outline. A barely-formed pretzel wrapped around 100 words is much easier for me to destroy than one baked hard into 10,000 words. In fact, I don’t even know how I’d go about it. I feel your pain!


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