I have known Bruce Hale for many years and I am always struck by how funny, kind and generous he is. He's a huge supporter of the SCBWI and full of great ideas, and I will sit in on any talk or workshop he gives. Author of the wildly successful Chet Gecko series, Bruce gives us the Writing Tip of the Day.
A CURE FOR STORY STUCK-ITIS
Often, I find that when my story bogs down I've lost track of what the character wants or I haven't given her a strong/meaningful enough goal to carry her through. If the character is actively trying to solve a problem, your story will keep moving forward. Of course, it’s one thing to say this and another thing to accomplish it. Here are a few techniques you might try to get unstuck:
• Character journaling: Write journal entries as if you were that main character. Sometimes in the free flow of writing, a new idea will shake loose.
• Interview your character: Write this in Q&A format, with you posing questions and your character answering. Ask what she’s feeling, what she wants – anything that will help you get past the stuck place. The answers might surprise you.
• Brainstorming: It’s vital to do plenty of this before you begin writing. Sometimes I’ve gotten stuck because I didn’t allow the story idea enough time to gestate before I tried to push it out into the world. Play with the idea before writing. Let it grow organically.
• Dream seeding: Writing is a head game. (And some of us are head cases because of this!) Let your unconscious mind lend a hand. Before you go to sleep, hold the key story question in your mind, whether it’s “What happens next?” “What does she want?” or “How does he get out of this predicament?”
And if all that fails, try putting your story aside and working on something else for a week. The brain break may do you good.