Writer's Block

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Writer's Block

Post by Call Me Nefret on Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:05 pm

I know it's a bit early in the process (as the month hasn't even started yet) but to help preempt any sort of issues in the weeks to come, I thought I'd share a couple ways I've found to help get beyond the dreaded block.

Kill, Create, or Bring Back
When I first asked my "writing person" what to do to whilst in a block, her response was "create or kill". The idea is you either kill a current character or create a new one (her personal favorite was to create a new character that came and killed a current...pretty sure that says something about her psyche). Personally, I prefer creating, as too much death can wear on a story after awhile.

The third I added in myself. I have a tendency to add in some small, throw-away characters as I go through the process. They're usually not big enough to be important the first time they're introduced. But when I'm in a block I'll go back and see what minor characters I made and put away. Often bringing them back helps add a new dynamic to a story. Sometimes characters originally intended to be just a random waitress in one scene end up crucial to plot points later on.

Research
This one I got from a published author. His suggestion, if you're in a block, is to go out and research the real world. The research doesn't have to be super serious. I like getting lost in that Wikipedia abyss, where you just keep clicking links in articles to go to other articles. You start researching the Civil War and somehow you're reading about the eating habits of giraffes on the Sahara. Reading other fiction helps as well. Essentially, this method is all about using outside fodder for inside thought.

The Chat Room
This one I made myself and I love it. Using a Word document, I create a fake chat page. Each character gets their own username, usually made off their personality. I even include the whole "Person X has entered the chat" notifications. And I give myself a username as well. This one is particularly helpful with character development. It's like letting the characters talk to each other in a strange out-of-world context. Also, it's a great way to let off steam and super fun to reread later.
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Poetic-Jessie on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:27 pm

I guess the way I get out of writer's block is to walk away and brainstorm with a friend of mine (we're each other's Brain Storm Trooper Razz ). Usually it involves one of us saying a problem and the other suggesting ideas or pointing out logic flaws or missed potential plot lines, or just listening while the other talks.

I also find that writer's block can be overcome with a bit of daydreaming about 'what if' or even writing a 'what if' scene (with the knowledge that I can always come back and delete it later).

Sometimes I just need to walk away from the story and leave it for months at a time. When I come back to it, the block kind of just resolves because I've given myself time digest what's happened, what should be happening and why it isn't happening.

I read somewhere that writer's block happens because the book took an odd turn and you don't know how to deal with it or the plot went haywire somewhere. This person suggested that the way to overcome writer's block was to go back and look at where your story went wrong, delete that part (and I have deleted around 1000 precious words...) and rewrite it so it fits the story. That has always seemed to work for me too.
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Call Me Nefret on Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:08 pm

Poetic-Jessie wrote:I guess the way I get out of writer's block is to walk away and brainstorm with a friend of mine (we're each other's Brain Storm Trooper Razz ). Usually it involves one of us saying a problem and the other suggesting ideas or pointing out logic flaws or missed potential plot lines, or just listening while the other talks.

I also find that writer's block can be overcome with a bit of daydreaming about 'what if' or even writing a 'what if' scene (with the knowledge that I can always come back and delete it later).

Sometimes I just need to walk away from the story and leave it for months at a time. When I come back to it, the block kind of just resolves because I've given myself time digest what's happened, what should be happening and why it isn't happening.

I read somewhere that writer's block happens because the book took an odd turn and you don't know how to deal with it or the plot went haywire somewhere. This person suggested that the way to overcome writer's block was to go back and look at where your story went wrong, delete that part (and I have deleted around 1000 precious words...) and rewrite it so it fits the story. That has always seemed to work for me too.

My greatest writer's block comes because when I formulate a story, I usually formulate the juicy bits. I have the beginning all mapped out to a certain point. And then I know the super dramatic things I want to happen later. Often I'll write out those scenes as they play out in my head to make sure I remember them. What I struggle with is what someone during the last NaNo called the "second third". The part where the premise has been set and the journey has begun, but you're not close enough to the end for the fun climactic parts. It's the build before the release. So the block for me comes when I'm trying to get from point A to point B. It's a metaphoric road block in the plot.

I do have a "Brain Storm Trooper" although we refer to each other as our "Writing Person". She is helpful a lot of the time, even if she has an absurd amount of love for evil characters.
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Poetic-Jessie on Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:37 am

Call Me Nefret wrote:

My greatest writer's block comes because when I formulate a story, I usually formulate the juicy bits. I have the beginning all mapped out to a certain point. And then I know the super dramatic things I want to happen later. Often I'll write out those scenes as they play out in my head to make sure I remember them. What I struggle with is what someone during the last NaNo called the "second third". The part where the premise has been set and the journey has begun, but you're not close enough to the end for the fun climactic parts. It's the build before the release. So the block for me comes when I'm trying to get from point A to point B. It's a metaphoric road block in the plot. 

I'd say a lot of authors have this issue. There's also the "second book slump" when it comes to trilogies (I see trilogies as a giant book, split into three, so I can apply the "second third" to trilogies). Maybe you could have a look at how other authors combat this "second book slump" or "second third."

I guess I focus on the romance arcs to get around the "second third" or "second book slump." If there is no romance in your book, general the character interactions can help you make this second third more interesting. eg. detailing how a strong friendship develops or conflict between allies. But I'm not sure if I can really help here, because I find that the set up is the hardest. All of the juicy stuff, for me, happens in the middle and end because of this relationships focus.

I think I should be taking my own advice and go back to rewrite the first book in my trilogy. It was very much along the lines of, "I need to get through this so I can get to the real story." The first book was necessary in setting up what took place in the later two books, it had a complete story arc of its own, but it's my least favourite of the trilogy (and given that it's a first book, it needs to be good). I think it was rushed, but I had the overarching story running through my mind and I needed to get it out of my head and onto paper. I guess as a result, I didn't take my time and allow my characters also to enjoy the process.

I'm not sure if you feel like you rush through your second third just so you can get to the end like I rush through my first third to get to the middle, but I hope this helps anyway.
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Call Me Nefret on Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:46 pm

Poetic-Jessie wrote:
I'd say a lot of authors have this issue. There's also the "second book slump" when it comes to trilogies (I see trilogies as a giant book, split into three, so I can apply the "second third" to trilogies). Maybe you could have a look at how other authors combat this "second book slump" or "second third."

I guess I focus on the romance arcs to get around the "second third" or "second book slump." If there is no romance in your book, general the character interactions can help you make this second third more interesting. eg. detailing how a strong friendship develops or conflict between allies. But I'm not sure if I can really help here, because I find that the set up is the hardest. All of the juicy stuff, for me, happens in the middle and end because of this relationships focus.

I think I should be taking my own advice and go back to rewrite the first book in my trilogy. It was very much along the lines of, "I need to get through this so I can get to the real story." The first book was necessary in setting up what took place in the later two books, it had a complete story arc of its own, but it's my least favourite of the trilogy (and given that it's a first book, it needs to be good). I think it was rushed, but I had the overarching story running through my mind and I needed to get it out of my head and onto paper. I guess as a result, I didn't take my time and allow my characters also to enjoy the process.

I'm not sure if you feel like you rush through your second third just so you can get to the end like I rush through my first third to get to the middle, but I hope this helps anyway.

This book it isn't actually as much of an issue because I have so many storylines going on at once. There will be one giant one, the ally turning into an enemy leading into all-out war, but I have a lot of smaller ones going on before that. The ex-mistress getting pregnant by a sweet but stupid nobleman and trying to convince the king its his, someone attempting to assassinate the king's future bride, introduction of more seers, a kidnapping/rescue. There will come that second third moment, but for right now I'm cruising. Which is good, because I want to make this story as long as possible. I've been typing out what I had handwritten so far and I'm already over 30 pages in Word. As I plan on going for 75k in words (I've done 50k twice now, I want to challenge myself) I am completely certain the block will become a very big, very painful thing.

I had the same issue with my series. Although my problem was I wanted to include so much character development that you can't do out of the gate. One of the character's is going to be in the closet and secretly in love with one of the straight characters, but that's for a later book. I want the undercover agent to get twisted from years of working with the bad guys. Again, for a later book. And I was sitting there like "how is the reader going to know all the awesome things that are going to come?!?!"
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Poetic-Jessie on Thu Mar 24, 2016 8:31 am

Call Me Nefret wrote:
This book it isn't actually as much of an issue because I have so many storylines going on at once. There will be one giant one, the ally turning into an enemy leading into all-out war, but I have a lot of smaller ones going on before that. The ex-mistress getting pregnant by a sweet but stupid nobleman and trying to convince the king its his, someone attempting to assassinate the king's future bride, introduction of more seers, a kidnapping/rescue. There will come that second third moment, but for right now I'm cruising. Which is good, because I want to make this story as long as possible. I've been typing out what I had handwritten so far and I'm already over 30 pages in Word. As I plan on going for 75k in words (I've done 50k twice now, I want to challenge myself) I am completely certain the block will become a very big, very painful thing.

Your book sound intriguing... I'm really interested in the plot lines now, lots of people trying to manipulate the king.

In regards to challenging yourself, I find that setting a word target works for me. I enjoyed challenging myself, it frustrated me at times, but overall it showed me that I can write more words than I thought I ever could (one of the reasons I love NaNoWriMo). It seems as if you're using this strategy too. Let me know if this works for you or if you've come up with any other strategies to help you reach your 75K words Smile

Call Me Nefret wrote:
I had the same issue with my series. Although my problem was I wanted to include so much character development that you can't do out of the gate. One of the character's is going to be in the closet and secretly in love with one of the straight characters, but that's for a later book. I want the undercover agent to get twisted from years of working with the bad guys. Again, for a later book. And I was sitting there like "how is the reader going to know all the awesome things that are going to come?!?!"

Yeah, I have a character that is secretly in love with the protagonist and you don't understand until the second book that everything he did in the first book was because he was in love with her. And I couldn't go into that in the first book because like you said, it's for a later book. I wanted to develop his character more, but I couldn't yet...

I've also got a character that undergoes a similar (but different, he's a scientist) experience where he's good then he gets corrupted. I try to show how this happens, without going into his POV. He gradually pulls away from the protagonist, gets more serious, doesn't laugh as much and constantly has a frown.

But yeah, this is all second book stuff. How will the readers know how awesome the rest of the trilogy is if they give up on the first book? How will they know the development my characters go through unless they read it to the end? -sigh- I guess I should try and make the first book better... But that's for another time.

But if the "second third" isn't as much of an issue in this book, that says to me that you've improved as a writer Smile
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Call Me Nefret on Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:26 am

Poetic-Jessie wrote:

Your book sound intriguing... I'm really interested in the plot lines now, lots of people trying to manipulate the king.

In regards to challenging yourself, I find that setting a word target works for me. I enjoyed challenging myself, it frustrated me at times, but overall it showed me that I can write more words than I thought I ever could (one of the reasons I love NaNoWriMo). It seems as if you're using this strategy too. Let me know if this works for you or if you've come up with any other strategies to help you reach your 75K words Smile


I'm interested in it myself, if it isn't too egotistical to say so. XD I just finished typing all that I had handwritten and it's over 27k. But I've barely hinted at the fact the younger seer was kidnapped and none of the to-be pregnant characters know they're pregnant. I'm going to resist all of my "I could turn this into a series" urges and focus purely on the story. It might end up being a longer book, for which I am grateful. When my father is searching for a new author, he wont read a book less than 400 pages. He'll only read one under the amount if he already likes the author. He's incredibly narrow in his tastes like that.

I just know that there's gonna come a point where I hate myself for setting such a high count. Especially since I'm still trying to do a reading challenge. Good thing the usual sites I go to online have been losing their interest for me or I'd bee screwed. XD

Call Me Nefret wrote:
I had the same issue with my series. Although my problem was I wanted to include so much character development that you can't do out of the gate. One of the character's is going to be in the closet and secretly in love with one of the straight characters, but that's for a later book. I want the undercover agent to get twisted from years of working with the bad guys. Again, for a later book. And I was sitting there like "how is the reader going to know all the awesome things that are going to come?!?!"

Yeah, I have a character that is secretly in love with the protagonist and you don't understand until the second book that everything he did in the first book was because he was in love with her. And I couldn't go into that in the first book because like you said, it's for a later book. I wanted to develop his character more, but I couldn't yet...

I've also got a character that undergoes a similar (but different, he's a scientist) experience where he's good then he gets corrupted. I try to show how this happens, without going into his POV. He gradually pulls away from the protagonist, gets more serious, doesn't laugh as much and constantly has a frown.

But yeah, this is all second book stuff. How will the readers know how awesome the rest of the trilogy is if they give up on the first book? How will they know the development my characters go through unless they read it to the end? -sigh- I guess I should try and make the first book better... But that's for another time.

But if the "second third" isn't as much of an issue in this book, that says to me that you've improved as a writer Smile[/quote]

I have so many future book stuff planned out, it's killing me not to be writing it right now. But I don't want to start on the sequel before I'm sure of the first. I don't want to change something in the first and forget to edit the second or something like that. Still, I'm like "I can't wait till this happens. And this, and that other thing. And oooooh, that part's gonna be sick." But I'm not even close to any of that. I guess that's another reason to stress the importance of the first book. You need to keep the reader coming back.

I seriously hope I would have improved by now. I've only been doing this for a decade. XD It's gotten to the point where every expects me to end up published some day. And while part of me is like "hell yeah, that's gonna happen" there's a little voice that say "but it'll be suuuuuuper embarrassing if I don't."

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