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Friday, April 12, 2013

Questions to Help Escape Writer’s Block

This week, I’ve finally been able to get back into that fun, creative part of writing: the first draft. Some of it flows very smoothly, but there are also times when I sit, unsure what to write for a while. I have a series of questions I ask in no particular order to help break through whatever is slowing me down. Hopefully, you too will find them useful.

What is the thing that the characters in this scene most fear might happen? (That’s usually a good thing to make happen.)

What am I most afraid to write? What am I shying away from? (This is often something that would make the story more powerful.)

Who has the most to lose right now? What could make it more painful/difficult/dangerous/personal/worse? (This often helps when trying to figure out whose POV (point of view) to use when writing a scene.)

What things have I mentioned earlier in this story in passing or that I intended to make use of later that I can incorporate now? How might they connect to what’s happening now? (Doing this will generate a more tightly woven story.)

What is easy to write? (This I usually avoid because I know it won’t challenge my readers or me, nor is it likely to be compelling.)

What am I feeling right now, and how might I inject that into the scene and characters? (Emotion is a great place to write from. Tapping our own emotions helps tap our natural voice.)

What are my characters feeling now? How can I feel this myself so it is easier to write convincingly? (This often involves touching on an old emotional memory. Usually not pleasant, but it can produce some powerful writing.)

Am I holding back? (If so, I stop and try to let loose whatever it is through the story. I can always change it in edits.)

What minor thing can I make bigger with these characters or this scene to create tension? How can I make that thing integral to the main plot? (You might be surprised by the goldmine this has the potential to unearth.)

Who is in conflict at this moment? How can I highlight that conflict? What is behind that conflict? What can make it deeper and more personal? (Conflict is one of the key ingredients in story.)

What questions do you ask to help get yourself unstuck?

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