Most writers eventually ask the question: “I’m really stuck with the plot/storyline of my novel. Do you know of something that will help me?”
Here’s a list of things you can do to get unstuck.
1. Research. One thing that has always worked for me is new information. Do some reading about elements of your story. I’m not talking about style–I’m talking about research. For instance, read information about the city in which you’ve placed the story. Location can often become somewhat of a character in its own right. Read about any of the other elements in the story–like the professions of the characters, the interests of the characters, etc. Google is extraordinary help in this. If you actually live in the same area as your setting, go on an excursion to new places, or to the places your characters go to. Take your notebook, laptop or Alphasmart (love my Alphasmart!) and take notes about what’s around you; eavesdrop on conversations. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Inspiration is likely to hit.
2. Also, check your notes collection. (I’m sure you have one) and something you jotted down before might come in handy. It could be a simple character sketch, a certain dog or cat, a memory, a dream, a snippet of dialogue….the point is, you need to feed that well in your mind. If the thing you’re trying to bake is not coming together, it’s usually the ingredients. Add something, take something away. Utilize your store of ideas that are just gathering electronic dust.
3. Get out of the way. The concept of putting it aside is really about getting out of the way long enough for things to percolate in your mind. Often, I work on 3 or more books at a time, because when i hit a snag, I can work on something else. I usually know each morning which book to work on by which one is niggling at me while i make coffee.
4. Try mind-mapping.
I have a large blank-paper desk pad on my desk. I use it to connect ideas and concepts in various ways. This method takes advantage of how our brains really think, and so it often opens up other ideas.
You simply put down your main elements, whether character, plot, location, etc, and then branch off from those central ideas. You can color code these circles and squares according to any criteria you need. Doing this will often reveal connections you didn’t see before because this method basically takes the machinations of your brain and spills them onto paper so you can make sense of it. You might have to use several sheets to get it all figured out, but each time you do that, you come closer to figuring out the elements of your story and finding the place where it got stuck.
5. A Think-Through before sleep. I always give my story a complete think-through before going to sleep, and keep my AlphaSmart (or your chosen writing instrument) by the bed. Often, I will dream something to help me, or I will wake up with a whole new idea.
6. Merging Ideas. Another trick I’ve used to great success is to take a piece from other story you started and didn’t finish–even if it’s just an idea of a few pages, and MERGE that idea with the one you’re stuck on. It can create some interesting plot and character dynamics and open the story up for you. I did this with my book Plethora, and it solved all the problems and got the story to flow all the way to the finish line.
7. Introduce a new character. If you have a minor character you’ve mentioned or not developed fully, think of ways you can do that, and often the introduction of a fuller character will provide the conflict, personalities, challenges needed to move your story forward.
8. Talk to other writers. I need more of this myself, but it’s often hard to find other writers. You’ll probably have to rely on the Internet again for that one. There are many writing sites and clubs. I even had one I’m thinking of resurrecting. I was going to wait until I relocated, and do it as a local thing, but i might do an online version as well and merge the two. My writer’s club is Kindred Ink Writer’s Initiative. (KIWI). ** Watch my sites for announcements. mmm. Now I’m inspired. I think i will resurrect KIWI. Anyway, good luck and let me know if my tips have helped you.
Hopefully these tips will help those with Writers Block, get unblocked.
I encourage responses and additions to these tips. Just post a comment below.
**and here is the writing site: Kindred Ink Writers Initiative