Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday Tutorials...slaying the beast

Writer’s block in some form is something most authors deal with, whether it’s simply struggling to find the right words, the desire to write, or at a loss as to what comes next. It’s a monster that threatens to impede our progress.

For today’s Tuesday Tutorials post I’m going to share advice that Tamora Pierce gave about overcoming writer’s blog. Tamora Pierce is an amazing fantasy writer. She wrote the Trickster's Choice series, The Lioness Rampant, and many other popular series.
  • Introduce a new character, a strong one with an individual style in speech, dress and  behavior--one who will cause the other characters to review their own actions and motives to decide where they stand with regard to the new character. Don't forget that with me, at least, new characters include animals: most characters will react to an animal intrusion of some kind in an interesting way.
  • Have something dramatic happen. As Raymond Chandler put it, "Have someone come through the door with a gun in his hand." (My husband translates this as "Have a troll come through the door with a spear in his hand.") Machinery or vehicles (cars, wagons, horses, camels) can break down; your characters can be attacked by robbers or pirates; a flood or tornado sweeps through. Stage a war or an elopement or a financial crash. New, hard circumstances force characters to sink or swim, and the way you show how they do either will move things along.
  • Change the point of view from which you tell the story. If you're doing it from inside one character's head, try switching to another character's point of view. If you're telling the story from an all-seeing, third person ("he/she thought") point of view, try narrowing your focus down to one character telling the story in first person, as Huckleberry Finn and Anne Frank tell their stories. If down the road in the world you've created someone has written a book or encyclopedia about these events, insert a nonfiction-like segment (that doesn't give the important stuff away) as a change of pace. Try telling it as a poem, or a play (you can convert it to story form later).
  • Put this story aside, and start something else: letters, an article, a poem, a play, an art project. Look at the story in a day, or a week, or a couple of months. It may be fresh for you then; it may spark new ideas.
  • If you have an intelligent friend who's into the things you're writing about, talk it out with him/her. My husband often supplies wonderful new ideas so I can get past whatever hangs me up, and my family and friends are used to mysterious phone calls asking about things seemingly out of the blue, like what gems would you wear with a scarlet gown, or how tall are pole beans in late June?
  • Most important of all, know when it's time to quit. Sometimes you take an idea as far as it will go, then run out of steam. This is completely normal. When I began to write, I must have started 25 things for each one I completed. Whether you finish something or not, you'll still have learned as you wrote. The things you learn and ideas you developed, even in a project you don't finish, can be brought to your next project, and the next, and the next. Sooner or later you'll have a story which you can carry to a finish.
Refer to: http://www.tamora-pierce.com/faq.html for original source.

I personally love introducing a new character when I’m stumped or throwing an unexpected twist. Even if that twist doesn’t work you’re still writing and it might be enough to get you going again.
I also find that if there is a scene you simply can’t write that skipping ahead can be highly effective. You don’t have to write a linear pattern. If you don’t want to write a scene, then skip to a scene you do want to write.

Best of luck! Overcoming writers block or whatever you want to call it is tough, but just remember you can slay the beast.
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