Whether you are just getting your feet wet or already neck-deep in the process of writing a novel, you may find that your fingers have stopped typing and that your brain has become an unresponsive lump of grey matter. Even when starting with a mountain of inspiration and the most detailed outline, things can eventually fall into a lull. Here are a few tips for overcoming those blockades in the beginning, middle and ending of your book.
1. The Blank White Screen
Maybe just thinking about starting to write a novel is enough to freeze you in panic before you have even started to type your first page. Words like ‘novel’ or ‘book’ are very intimidating and it may be difficult to make the commitment. Did you ever hear the joke, How do you eat an elephant? The answer is simple–one bite at a time.
2. Think of it chapter by chapter
Write the story like a series of short stories. Set your writing goals by chapters instead of the novel in its entirety.
3. Organize thoroughly
Good organization gives you the confidence to start writing since it outlines the main points in the plot. All you have to do then is connect the dots. A good framework will also keep your writing flowing and ensure the ending is in focus.
4. Use research as a prompt
Sometimes if you are stuck on where to start your novel, it may help to do a little more research until something strikes a nerve. Maybe an idea will come to you while investigating the setting of your book. A local landmark or historical event could trigger the first paragraph.
5. Stream of consciousness
You can sit down and start typing without any clue as to where you are. This may not produce the best story at first, but it is better than sitting there looking at the blank screen. An interesting character or plot could materialize out of nowhere. You can always delete any aimless parts later.
6. Stuck in the middle with you
Sometimes you take off with your beginning idea and your main character at light speed. You’re in the zone and nothing can stop you now, right? Then you find that you’ve run out of steam when getting to the middle of your book.
You can not let your guard down here. It is important to cultivate your characters and add interesting tidbits to your plot so that your reader doesn’t put the book down and never pick it back up again.
Developing the middle of your story is crucial to the end. It is your chance to deepen the reader’s connection with your characters so that what happens in the ending is meaningful.
7. Choose a piece of music
Like in a movie, sometimes it helps to choose a theme song for your book. Play the song whenever you get stuck and envision what your characters are doing. Let your mind go free and see what happens next.
8. Add in character defining morsels
For a simple example, say your character is a tough, lonely female cop about to get her world shaken up by your dashing hero, but why is she a lonely female cop? Instead of explaining it, add small memoires, flashbacks, or scenarios that explain her psychology. For example:
• Your character finds her old teddy bear and thinks about her father who left when she was five.
• She reveals her bad temper by cold-cocking an arrestee.
• A cute guy approaches her at the bar and even though she finds him attractive she declines.
9. Throw in a monkey wrench
Add an extra challenge for your characters to overcome.
10. Trudge on through it
Just keep typing. Eventually you’ll hit a sweet spot and get back on track.
What’s your favorite way to beat writer’s block?
Leave your tips below!
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