So, Gentle Reader, I’m not one of those authors who prattles on about writing being some sacred undertaking you simply must to do for yourself and no author should give another advice and blah blah blah. True, some of us writers are beret-wearing cognac-swilling arteests, but most of us are sweatpants-sporting caffeine-addicted artisans. We write because it’s a job, and, that, Gentle Reader, isn’t very romantic.
I believe you can learn to write. I believe that it is a craft. And I believe you are all perfectly capable of deciding whether to heed someone’s advice or not.
A young lady once asked me what I did about writer’s block. I used to say “I don’t get writer’s block,” but what I think is more accurate is that I have work-arounds that cause writer’s block to be more transient for me. So here you go, I am going to dole out advice. Take it, or don’t.
What to do if you get writer’s block?
- Outline. No really, just flipping write one. (You can call it a “treatment” if the word “outline” scares you.) Miracle of miracles an outline tells you where to go next plot-wise. If the current scene isn’t working, you can move on to the next scene and come back later. Some authors hate outlines. An entirely unscientific survey has shown that these authors are 80% more likely to suffer from writer’s block. (Yeah, I just totally made that up, but it sounds good.)
- Switch POV. I sometimes write multiple POVs (yes, I know I’m doing it, no, I don’t care, call me a risk taker, ah-cha-cha). If one POV character isn’t playing nice, switch to a different one. Although, be warned, you can loose original voice this way and you may have to fix it later.
- Introduce a new character, stage right. You can always edit her/him/it out later. But sometimes a scene needs new energy ~ I always get mine from characters. Make them amusing enough and no one cares if they are superfluous, and they may turn out to be vital later.
- Have an argument. No matter how well matched or friendly, your characters must disagree on something. They could even argue about where to go next. I love doing dialogue so this is a fall back position for me (truth be told, I also love arguing). Don’t forget, arguments can also be internal ~ Nicole Peeler is the master of the inner quandary.
- Drop something out of the sky. No, literally. (Ha, a double pun, I kill me.) AKA have something explode, or crash, or jump out with a knife. You don’t have to know why it happens, not yet, but it will certainly move things along.
- Describe more. I hate this one but sometimes learning more about the atmosphere around your characters causes something new to pop out. I default to describing fashion, but whatever works, right?
Even if none of the above solutions make sense for your story, at least it keeps you writing. These are tools for the writer, not necessarily the book. Not everything has to be perfect right away, you can always go back and change it, or delete it entirely, later. This it your story, you are the absolute master of it.
I used to be a pretty bad “starter but not finisher” of novels, and I think it was because once I had introduced a character I got bored with her (or him). Now I simply keep throwing things at them because I realized that they have more to tell me than I originally thought.
So, those are my tips. Use them at your own peril.
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
|1913 The Philadelphia Museum of Art|
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
|Steampunk statue at my local cafe|
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
The Science of What Makes an Introvert and an Extrovert
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
PROJECT ROUND UP
Curtsies & Conspiracies ~ The Finishing School Book the Second. Out now!
Soulless Vol. 3 (AKA Blameless the manga) ~ Out now!
Waistcoats & Weaponry ~ The Finishing School Book the Third. I honestly do not yet know the exact release date. Probably early November 2014.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Working rough draft.
Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Delayed. Why? Rewrite begins soon.
Old rave review of Soulless, but still honest, from Alpha Reader. “I have an inkling that Gail Carriger will become a ‘must-read’ author for me. I will faithfully read whatever she writes, even if it’s not Steampunk or an Alexia Tarabotti book.” Lets not tell about some of my early work, shall we?
Quote of the Day:
“If you haven’t got an idea, start a story anyway. You can always throw it away, and maybe by the time you get to the fourth page you will have an idea, and you’ll only have to throw away the first three pages.”
~ William Campbell Gault