Recently I was in this situation. I made a list of characters and their actions throughout the novel. I was happy with their progress, but when I looked at the end of each list, I couldn’t decide what their next move was or more to the point, where I was going to take them.
I selected the schoolboy who had been taking money from his step mother’s handbag. His step parents thought if he was in trouble, it was best to wait until he told them about it.
I was stumped at this point, yet it was time to let the reader know what was happening, even although the character played a small part in the story.
I let my mind play over what could possibly happen when a boy was being bullied. Overnight, nothing was decided, but when I put pen to paper later the next day, no decision had been made. Yet, when I wrote, a scene took place – the stealing had stopped, but he came home with a swollen ear, which he explained happened after riding a friend’s bike and falling against railings. It was plausible, but obviously a lie.
I’d sorted out a way forward for this character. Now I felt competent to tackle other problems. It just takes imagination, effort and willingness to confront what the next step should be. It isn’t easy, but with determination you can get to the next scene and from there a way forward.