Here's an idea: negotiate!
By Joe Moore
I don’t believe in writer’s block. The reason is twofold. First, I’m a professional writer; my job is to come up with ideas. I’ve never heard of a mechanic suffering from mechanic’s block or a doctor suffering from doctor’s block. When I’m faced with an issue in my story, I come up with a solution. That’s part of being a writer.
I think that writer’s block is about being stuck with coming up with ideas, not words. If I can’t come up with the words, I’m in serious trouble. It’s like that mechanic saying he can’t come up with the correct wrench. A master mechanic has a kit full of tools (words); his job is to come up with the correct procedure to fix a problem.
So writer’s block is really a matter of a writer getting stuck for whatever reason. It’s frustrating but not a show-stopper.
First, you need to focus on why you’re stuck.
The most common form of writer’s block is not knowing what happens next. This is basically a plotting issue. The solution can be found in 5 words: What does the protagonist want? If you backtrack to the last point in the story that it was clear what motivated the protagonist’s actions and how it drove the story forward, the answer to what happens next will usually be revealed. Think about the story question. Did you stray from the process of answering it? Chances are you created a scene that does not contribute directly or indirectly in answering the main story question—the big conflict. Starting a rewrite from that point will usually get you back on track.
Another common issue that will derail your story is facing the dilemma of why anything matters. Who cares? This usually deals with the question: What’s at stake. Whether it’s an internal or external struggle, the protagonist must realize that fighting the fight is worth it. If she loses, what’s at stake? What does she stand to lose? If it’s a high concept thriller, what does the community, country, or civilization stand to lose? Reexamining the stakes can help to put you back on course.
A third issue in suffering from writer’s block is facing the crippling question: Is this story logical? In other words, why would it even happen? You might have a really cool idea, but the reality is that no sane person would follow the path laid out by the plot. It’s just not something the reader would buy into. If this is the case, rethink the story in terms of how it relates to HUMAN BEINGS. Don’t get me wrong. Even the most outrageous science fiction or horror stories still have to relate to human emotions and logic. Otherwise, they become 2-dimensional. If your story is so out there that the average reader can’t relate, try reexamining the human aspects of it. Many writers including me believe that there are only two emotions in the world: love and hate. If your story lacks either, then it becomes hard if not impossible to sell the reader on an outrageous, illogical plot. And writer’s block raises its ugly head.
How about you, my Zoner friends. How do you overcome writer’s block?
Coming soon: THE SHIELD by Sholes & Moore
“THE SHIELD rocks on all cylinders.” ~ James Rollins, NYT bestselling author of THE EYE OF GOD.
|MacGregor, fearsome watchdog.|
|"Do you feel lucky, Moth?"|
The Kill Zone is the musings of 11 top authors covering topics that inspire, anger, amuse, and entertain us. Each day, we’ll share what goes on inside our heads as we observe and write about the world around us. The Kill Zone is a doorway into the thriller and mystery writer’s mind.
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HEART FAILURE, May 9
ARCTIC FIRE, May 23
DELIVERANCE, May 30
A BOTHER OF BODIES, June 6
BASTION: THE LAST HOPE, June 27
INTERFACE, July 4
THE SCISSORGATE, July 25
AVANTI, August 1
THE GOOD GUYS, August 22
DEALBREAKER, August 29
BLADE OF HEARTS, September 4
THE CIRCLE, September 10
A HARD MAN TO KILL, September 26
LOVE ALWAYS, LOLA, October 1
PHV, October 9
A ROSE TO LOVE, October 14
UNTITLED x 2, October 16
A GAME OF DAYS, October 17
THE PINK MOTORCYCLE, October 24
THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER, Oct 29
BRUEGHEL THE ELDER, November 21
HAIR TRIGGER, November 27
QUEST FOR HONOR, January 30
ANGRY ENOUGH TO KILL, March 6
WHISPER CREEK, April 17