dreamerwrites (dreamerwrites) wrote,

Writers' Block: Getting Unstuck

I've been working on a first draft lately. I love first drafts. It's like reading a new book, learning what happens as you move from page to page, learning about the characters, learning what they're learning. This manuscript had been progressing really smoothly, as if it knew what it needed to say, and I was just there to get it down on paper.... Until I got stuck. Maybe it was because there's so much going on at home. Maybe it was because I was trying to work in medical situations that I don't yet fully understand and for which I need to do more research. But for whatever reason, I was stuck. And I hate being stuck. I sort of knew where I wanted to go, but I wasn't sure if that plot point was going to work and I definitely did not know how to get there.

Yesterday I came across an article about what to do when you can't figure out how to get from point A to point B in your story. It had some great suggestions. The one that resonated with me the most was the advice one of the authors had learned from Stephen J. Cannell, which entailed plotting the place where you're stuck from the perspective of the antagonist. It made me realize that I've been so busy moving forward that I'd forgotten about all the other juicy stuff you learn from taking a breather and seeing what your characters have to say about things.

So late last night (a time when I never feel alert enough to write), I set aside the manuscript and interviewed my antagonist, asking him to show me what was happening from his perspective. Even though I'd already had an overall idea of what he would say, it wasn't until he said it that I saw the complete picture. I'd been aware of his basic motivation, but not of the details of what had been happening along the way to make his choices make sense. And in discovering that, I was able to see how the rest of the story will play out.

Now, I just need to find the time to get it all down. So note to self: When you're feeling stuck, don't try to push through. Step back, seek out your characters, let them tell you what happens next. It's much easier than trying to think it up yourself!

Tags: cheryl renee herbsman, craft, writers block, writing

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