If you're like me at the beginning of this week, you're stuck. Completely, utterly, knee-deep stuck. You're not sure when it happened, you just know it did, and you're novel's suffering because of it. Last week I hit a block. I got to the part of the story where my outline ended, and apparently, so did my inspiration. I ended up pushing myself to write through it, but I'm still at least 5,000 words behind, and my story's trash (not actual trash, it just needs heavy editing). I was working hard, and still ending up behind.
Because of this, I decided to take a break from my weekly updates, and share a few things that helped me. I'm still behind, but I'm definitely gaining speed. First, I want to say that pushing through isn't always the worst idea. It helps you get some words down, and ideas flowing. It also helps to get ideas pumping when you go to edit it. While my 1,000 words that I forced down are terrible, I can fit them into the plot, still.
Second, remember to keep your eyes on the prize. Don't follow every rabbit trail that makes you excited to write. Keep comparing it to your original plot helps when you're out of ideas. It gives you a map you can follow and helps you stay true to your story. Also, keeping a plot list/summary of your novel nearby is a good idea if you've got too many ideas, too. If you stray too much, you'll have a series of short stories, but not a cohesive novel. This may not be the editing phase, but it will help to shorten that process because you won't be reconstructing a plot based on loosely connected stories
That's not to say that following some rabbit trails is not important. It is important. It keeps your novel interesting and adds more surprise or fun to it. It also improves and refines your plot. For example, my fantasy novel had a basic plot, but because I got stuck on a question and had to ask a friend for help, I ended up making one of the protagonist's friends another protagonist, because she was interesting, and had a great backstory (not being prideful, I just really like it). I also ended up completely changing the plot and the antagonist. The important thing is to remember to regularly update and read your plot, so you know where you're going, and that you like the direction.
Third, if you're feeling stuck, look up tropes that your target audience likes. I've been spending a lot of time watching 'Booktube' videos about tropes they like and don't like. While I'll still add my own opinion, reading these can inspire me, and help me see some possible additions to the novel, and to add to my plot. Another favorite of mine is to look up plot twists that got people mad in the right way, and that readers liked. Plot twists especially help me because they give me a fresh look at the novel. They make it new and full of possibility and interest.
Here are a few example plot twists to pick up the pace, and get you back into the writing mood:
- 1.Kill a character that the protagonist was close to, by the antagonist
- 2.Betray someone, with someone the character was close friends with
- 3. Take the weapon—Doesn't have to be an actual weapon—that the main character will use to destroy the villain, and lose it (don't forget to give it back at some point, of course)
Do you see the pattern? Yep, they all relate to hurting the protagonist. Someone once told me that a story goes like this: "You make your protagonist climb a tree. Then, you throw rocks at the tree. A lot of them hit your protagonist; then you help her climb down." This is really basic, but pretty much what every plot boils down to. Pain, then change, and the end.
I hope that these ideas help you and that you get back in the mood to write! Remember, pain generates familiarity, which generates likability and interest. Put your character through everything. Think of the worst thing that could happen, then do it. Then help your character down the tree. Give her a new life or fix her old, change her, fix her problems, anything. Or, you could push her out of the tree. It's up to you because it's your story. Go! Write! Conquer!
Oh, I'll be back next week with a week 3 & 4 recap, and possibly some extra tips, so look out for that!