Every writer has experienced writers block. Heck, I experienced it for 3 years. Sometimes it’s just not possible to progress a story, and this can come down to multiple things –
– You’re not inspired by your own story
– You’re not familiar with your characters
– You don’t have a story to tell!
You need to ask yourself, what’s your motive for writing a story in the first place. What are you trying to achieve? What’s your story and who are you trying to tell it to?
If you’re motive is for fame, notoriety or some personal achievement, I don’t think you’re going to get very far. You need to have a story to tell. That sounds so obvious, but once you know your story, the rest will fall into place. Whether it’s a story about an intense thriller, a crime story, horror or something topical, you need to focus on what makes those genres so exciting and focus on achieving that through your writing. Like a painting, you get to choose the colours and style you want to put down. Once you know the story you want to tell, you’ll find yourself in a groove and writing 20,000 words on just conversation and non-story arc related events. You’ll be absorbed into your world, building these scenes, these characters and watching them develop as you write.
Once you know you’re motive, and once you know your story, you will find your writing flows better because you know what you want to say. However, there will be some nuances that you will need to consider. You need to develop your characters, and this takes time. It may take you two scenes to set up a particular emotion or a particular character. In The Vengeful One: A Christmas Tale, the character Adam develops through the story. We see him as a vulnerable young boy, bulimic and insecure. As the story develops, he builds up courage and becomes fed up with his own victim mentality, and he fights back. Adam didn’t develop in one chapter, it took 20 chapters for Adam to develop into the person we see at the end of the story. Be confident to sit back and write dialogue and stretch out your arcs, you don’t need to rush.
You may struggle to find inspiration, even when you’re comfortable with the story and where you want to go. In these situations, take a left turn if you need to and go in a completely different direction. In The Devil In I, the character would go back in time and even to another world at one point. It had nothing to do with the story, but I just felt like it’d be fun for the reader to experience this character in another setting, and the character and story allowed me to do it. In your story, try doing a flashback. It might be non relating to the story, but a flashback might give the reader an indictation of why your character said or did a certain thing in the current day. By doing this, not only would you have developed your character in a unique way, but you would have subtly planted a clever character development trait into your story. I always felt like The Sopranos was so good for that. Their character development was subtle and clever. I think this is why fans are so obsessed with the show. In terms of writing and symbolism, that final scene was and is a work of art.
By taking a left turn, without realising it, you’ll have opened up new doors for your story and you can explore different things in your new world.
Remember, your mind and imagination are usually offshoots of what you have seen and interpreted so far in your life. Nothing is really original anymore. The reason why we are all able to connect with one another because, for the most part, we can all relate with one another. That’s why those mainstream comedians are so popular, because the stuff they’re talking about is generally what 99% of people experience on a day to day basis, but don’t vocalise it. This brings me onto my next two points, be relatable and observe the world around you. Fact is truly stranger than fiction, it really is. Anything you can think of, somewhere in the world, it’s probably happened. This would explain why Netflix documentaries are so interesting and popular, because they’re like ‘movies’. Create characters who are relatable, if you need to draw on people you’ve met in the past, then do whatever you need to. The more you draw on, the more real that character feels. Stephen King often writes himself into his stories. Shawshank Redemption, Secret Window, The Shining and Misery all have main characters who are writers who are in some sort of distress and isolation.
Finally, you should be asking yourself, ‘What do you want your reader to feel?’ You are the author of this book, you can’t leave it to chance, you need to know when your reader is going to laugh, cry, be terrified, confused and angry. Every beat needs to be played out, you are the painter here, its not an abstract piece of art, it’s a story. Every movie you have ever watched, the writer has a 99% knowledge of when you’re going to laugh, gasp or cry. They not only plan it that way, but the best writers will market research and use beta readers across a wide range of demographics to know what readers will be feeling and thinking.
In my book The Vengeful One: A Christmas Tale, I purposely did things to annoy the reader. A few of the readers told me they were thinking of the characters in their sleep and the next day and it was driving them crazy. Another reader told me they really wanted to know what happened in a particular part and couldn’t stop thinking about it. This is a cruel reaction to seek, but it fell into the whole premise of the book. In the synopsis, I specifically explain how revenge and vengeful thoughts will starve the person of closure and it really isn’t a good thing to have those thoughts. Moral of the story, control and author the feelings you want to put across.