Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Break Writers' Block the Old-Fashioned Way

Get past writers' block
More has been said about writers' block than most writing topics. The problem usually isn't that people can't put a word on paper, but that they're afraid to.

Some writers thrive on deadlines. Others dread them. Some fear the blank page. To others, it's a perennial fresh start. Of the myriad ways to deal with writers' block, one is to simply begin, even if all you start with is, "I'm not sure what to say."

When I reach an impasse while writing a story, I often stop writing the story and start writing to myself. I'll write something like, "I'm not sure what to say here, and the reason is …" It's similar to using the prompt "and then" to keep the prose flowing.

My approach, however, is to explain the problem to myself, since I'm not always sure what the problem is. I may think I know, then find it's really something else. I may fear something, or lack a key piece of information. Whatever the reason, I'm usually better off addressing it by writing about it. That way I keep writing, address the problem and move toward a solution all in one effort.

Suffering from writers' block? Send along your anecdote.

Happy writing!

For an online writers' workshop, visit Word for Words. For more on writing, visit Adele's blog.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Use a Point of View Change in Fiction to Reveal Your Characters

A POV change deepens your fiction
An MFA colleague recently explained how switching point of view (POV) from third person to first helped him relate to his main character. "I really got inside her head," he said.

The idea for the shift began as an exercise to deepen the story's main squeeze. In this case, what started as an exercise resulted in a much stronger character so much so the writer revised the manuscript to reflect the new perspective.

To deepen your main character, try switching to first person from third, and from a distant perspective to one that's close, as in the following examples:

John walked into the crowed room and looked around at the unfamiliar faces. How could he make a personal call in front of all these people?

He edged into the crowded room. He couldn't make the call now, not with everyone listening.

You may not revise your entire story to reflect the new POV, but revising a pivotal scene will reveal and enrich your character, and your story. The approach also works for going from one gender to another, and one age or stage of life to another.

What story are you writing that could benefit from a deeper main or key secondary character?

Happy writing! For more tips, visit Word for Words, or visit Adele's blog.