21 February 2011

Writer's Block:
The Next Part Doesn't Fit

Recognize the Reason for Writers Block
Writer's block comes in many forms. If you have stopped writing, it may take some work to recognize why. This is my fourth essay on the reasons we set our writing aside or just can't seem to continue. Here we will tackle those moments when the next part of your story or article doesn't seem to fit.

An Outline Can Help Prevent Writers Block
This can occur with our without an outline. With an outline it is easy to recognize. You have left the plot line. Without an outline you can still sometimes find you have veered from you original purpose. Again, as my writing coach, Shirley Schirz, insists, you should always have an outline. Outlines can solve many of the problems that create writer's block. After all, how can you get back on course if you don't know what course you are on?

This problem can occur even when you are not off course. We'll start there. The last section and the next section do not match. Fortunately, this is an easy one. You can solve this with as little as a sentence. Introduce the new section by simply stating why it is different. "Ten years later...", "I will now discuss..." "In Washington..." Introduce the reader to what comes next.

The larger version of this is a transitional paragraph. What you want to say next requires more than a sentence. Don't hold back. Tell you reader why the change has happened and introduce them to the new situation, time period, or sub-plot. 

Really, this is just standard writing. The trick is to recognize it as the cause of your writer's block.

Bridge Gaps to Get Past Writers Block
Now let's look at the times when you really have gone off course. Maybe you took time to explain something to support your story and it took the plot off to the side. Maybe your characters took control and began to do things you didn't expect. Oddly enough, characters do seem to take on a life of their own sometimes.

For times when your sideline took you away, again, use the transitional sentence or paragraph. You also might find this is a good time to end the chapter. A new chapter is a transition. By starting a new chapter you tell your reader that you are starting something new.

Control Your Storyline to Fight Writers Block
Now we come to the part where I veer away from my writing colleagues. It involves the characters to who take control of the plot. These sneaky little characters seem to do what they please. They say things you didn't intend. They come up with their own reactions to things. They take the plot and walk off with it. Often a side-character steps forward and threatens to steal the show.

This is a matter of control. No, I don't mean that your characters have control of you. I mean just the opposite. You must control yourself. You are the one writing, after all. The truth is that you have imagined it all. It's you taking your story off on new courses, not them. You are the one typing and you are the one imagining. Kudos to the human mind and its remarkable imagination; truly.

I don't believe characters need this much leash. When my characters try to walk off with the plot, I give them a literary slap and put them right back on it. In contrast to this advice, I do let them roam. So long as they are on-plot, I don't mind what they do. They can "create their own personality", say what they like, and take actions I did not plan. All this is fair game so long as they do not leave the intended overall plan. In fact, letting this peculiarity of human imagination work its magic can be a lot of fun.

Just keep in mind; it's you, not them. You are the craftsman of you writing.

This philosophy can create disappointment. Your characters can do things that are genuinely interesting or even exciting. If so, I offer two solutions. 1. Change the story enough to include the unintended part. Just keep in mind this can create clashing themes and a lot of work. 2. Remove the section that veered away from the plot but first copy and paste it into its own document. Save it in a folder and add to the folder each time this happens. Pretty soon, you will have a host of great ideas for other stories.

Look at the Big Picture When Fighting Writers Block
The best way to avoid disappointment when scrapping these altered plot lines is to tell yourself that you are a writer. You are not going to write one great work and be done. You are going to finish the work you are on and then do another, and another and another. You can splurge. These ideas are not gone, they are just waiting for their time. Few things are better written than those we spend time imagining before we write them. These abandoned story lines percolate in the mind. When you get back to them, you might find they are better conceived than when you laid them aside.

Writers Block Overview
Overview: 1. Make and use an outline. 2.Miss-matched sections of writing might just need a transition or a new chapter. 3. You are in control. Your story will ultimately go where you guide it.

That is all for now. I hope this helps.
Feel free to leave comments or describe your own writer's block.

No comments:

Post a Comment