Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Writing 101: Stuck.

When you can't figure out what to write next and can't seem to put words on the page, you might have writer's block. When you know where you're going but can't seem to write it, you're just plain stuck. 

Forward Motion

When it comes to the little details, all those steps between "it was a dark and stormy night" and "they lived happily ever after" are rife with opportunity...for getting stuck. 
Sometimes, you might not know how to advance the story. The journey from Point A to Point B isn't so straightforward after all. Sometimes you get stuck, and you've got to get unstuck to get to the end of the book. Try some tricks that might help:

  • Check the outline. With an outline, at least you know what's supposed to happen. Keep it in mind so you can figure out how to make it happen. 
  • Go backwards. Read back a little to see where you've been, and see if that help you start moving forward.
  • Stop and think. When I'm stuck, I'll stop writing. Take a walk, take a hot bath, take yourself down to the gym -- do whatever helps you think. And in this space, think about where your book needs to go next. Remember to think in terms of specific scenes you need to write, and focus your efforts. Sometimes, starting at the big picture makes it difficult to work out all those little details. 
  • Skip it. If a particular scene or piece of the story is giving you trouble, skip it. Move on to a part of the book that you can write. Skipping around is a time-honored tradition in writing. Chapter 1 of Gone With the Wind was written by Margaret Mitchell after the rest of the book. 

When you know how the story begins and how it ends, you might think writing that book will be smooth sailing. The truth is, there are about a million reasons why you might get stuck in-between. It happens to me all the time. Try to get yourself unstuck however you can. And when all else fails, go and write something else. Sometimes just writing anything at all will help you get back into the groove, and you'll find it easier to continue with your book.

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  1. I find moving on to the next scene hard sometimes, although I've done it a couple of times in my current WIP. Stuck just doesn't have the same ring to it as 'writer's block' does it?