Stuck in the midst of your story?
Writer's block can hover over your shoulder, silent and deadly, until the weak moment in your manuscript when BAM! it can hit. But I've been paying attention to when mine decides to strike, and I've found that it is typically caused by a few major villains. Knock out those villains, and you might just avoid a blockage all-together.
Let's look at some of the top block-causers:
Especially in the beginning of your novel, if you can't clearly picture your characters, you can't write them. If you don't know their personalities, it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to write from inside their heads or anticipate how they will react to things. Writing a simple conversation or scene can take hours, and feel awkward and wrong.
The Solution: Find a muse. Look at people in your life, your relatives, coworkers, and friends. Can you base your difficult characters on any of them? Or maybe a character on television, one you "know" well enough to anticipate their reactions, feelings, and personality. Often my characters are a combination of people I know and celebrities, tv characters and famous figures.
If you don't know where you want your book to head next, it can make it impossible to 'write in the dark'. You don't know if you should be introducing a new character, or starting a conversation, or writing a scene a triggers a chain of events.
The Solution: If I get stuck, I try to roughly outline the next chunk of my book, or I draw a storyline arc and try to decide where my current place in the novel falls on it. Sometimes that arc helps me to realize that I should be approaching the story's climax, and need to start moving in that direction. If you are making up the story as you go and have no idea what is ahead, try doing a 'what if' exercise. I touch on this in my How to Write a Novel course - here's a video that describes the What If process, and how it works:
Another Solution: If you are 'pantsing' your novel (writing without an outline) you may have written yourself into a corner. Back up a scene or two, and try rewriting those scenes and ending them differently, moving your novel in a fresh direction. Often that new direction will take off and you'll be rocking and rolling again.
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