Whenever you want to get unstuck and get some writers block help, try asking this;
Now what happens?
That’s the first question.
Now if nothing comes to mind after asking that question try this;
- think of your characters’ preferences and desires. What are they?
- add some more detail that fleshes out who the characters are
- Include how these characters feel about each other, as well as, their own self image
- If you don’t already, write a separate back story for each character
I’ve heard JK Rowling talk about how much back story she writes on her characters.
Most of the information never makes it into the final version of her novels.
However, because she knew her characters so intimately, she was able to move the story forward in a logical fashion.
She could ask What happens now? and get a clear answer because she knew her characters so well.
Do you see how this could free you up and break the chains of writer’s block?
Whenever you get stuck, go back to your character’s preferences and desires. This helps you to understand their perspective better.
It’s like getting to know someone. Knowing their likes and dislikes says a lot about who they are.
As well, if you write out your character’s back story as if they were your best friend it’ll give you a richer bank of detail to pull from.
Here’s An Example:
Romeo, our dashing leading man, has just scaled the side of a waterfall doused cliff to greet the love of his life. He gets to the top and sees his beloved Juliet through the window of her cabin in the arms of another man. – Gasp!
Now what happens?
You want adventure and romance in this story.
Romeo is in love with Juliet. He wants to be with Juliet forever. He’s an athletic, adventurous man willing to do whatever he can to be with the woman he loves.
So based on Romeo’s preferences and desires what happens now?
- Kick down the door and barge his way in?
- Does he knock on the door and then knock the other man out when he answers the door?
- Does he try to create a diversion so the other man will leave and he can take Juliet?
- Would he take the chance to set the house on fire and rescue Juliet?
- Would he send a goat as a present from a neighbor with a poisoned note attached to the collar for the man to read?
- Or maybe the poison note is meant for Juliet to read?
- Does Romeo know the man?
- Does Romeo end up think Juliet is just too loose of a lady and leaves her with the other guy?
There are a million ways this could go…
Depending on what kind of man Romeo is, will determine the answers to the questions.
After all you created this Romeo. He’s your invention. Based on what you know about him… what happens now?
What you’re doing here as a writer – building a character profile – is not unlike the work of an actor.
Great actors usually make copious notes on who their characters are.
What did their character do before the scene started? Where are they going after the scene ends? What are their childhood memories?
Even though none of this is ever mentioned in the script.
Know your characters and they will lead you forward on your story journey.
Understand your character’s preferences and desires and you will get unstuck, smash through writers block and maybe find a new friend in one of your characters.
Want more tips on writing from some very successful authors?
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Wishing you much imagination…
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