Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Stuck for Words? Tell Yourself a Story

Stuck for words? Who isn't at some point? One way to surmount this form of writer's block is to tell yourself (in writing) what you think the story should be until the real story comes.

One reason for writer's block is the seemingly endless number of ways to craft a scene. Should Harry and Sally have their hilarious explanatory scene in a bus station or a café? Should the scene end with Sally's exclamation, or should there be one more line? When a finished product works, the countless decisions (many subconscious) behind the scenes are invisible, and the effect is seamless. But when you're in the process of creating the scene or story, each word choice can seem like life or death. Rather than bog down in details or go off on a rabbit trail only to deal with a major rewrite later, explain to yourself — right where you're stuck on the page — what you really want to say, or what you think the scene should be. You'd be surprised, pleasantly, I hope, with the outcome.

Consider this from author and frequent Writer's Digest contributor James Scott Bell: "Your scenes are like the stones in an English wall. I prefer that image to bricks because bricks all look the same. You want your scenes to vary in shape and feel, but when you step back they should all fit together." Planning that stone wall in advance is key to it standing the test of time.

To put today's musing into action, check out the writing tip at the top of the list and let me know how it goes.

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