I’m finally learning that if I get writer’s block, it’s probably because I took a wrong turn with my book along the way. I’m not sure why I’d forgotten this, but sadly, I’ve done this with every book so far. It usually happens somewhere around the midpoint, and when I look back I realize that about a third of the way through I started forcing things to happen because I wanted a certain outcome.
I sometimes forget to ask what actions each character would take in response to what happened—What would my villain do next? My hero? My heroine?—and instead start deciding what I want to happen.
Sure, I might want them to finally give in to their attraction, thus complicating everything, but it has to serve the story. It has to make sense based on who the characters are and what they’re going through at that moment.
I’m trying to learn from my mistakes, but when the story’s not working, it’s sometimes hard to remember that I’ve been here before. I don’t want to admit that I might have written days and days of prose that needs to be cut.
But I’m doing it with my current WIP. I’m moving the last 15,000 words or so—ouch, I really liked some of those scenes!—into my Unused Scenes folder for possible pilfering later, and thinking about how my characters would actually move forward to tackle the threat.
I put a little sticky flag on my computer: How will each react? It’s supposed to remind me to stop at the end of each scene and think about how each major character would respond. Not how I want them to respond, but what a person like him or her in that given situation would do.
My propensity to move them around like chess pieces is one of the reasons I quit trying to plot it all out in advance. I guess I’m a discovery draft kind of writer.
Maybe someday I’ll remember to check with my characters all the way through and I won’t have to stop and back up. But for now, I’m just happy that the ideas are flowing again.
What blocks you?
Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WrongWaySign.jpg (public domain)