To continue from yesterday's post about blocks, we also learned that we get stuck for a variety of reasons. While regaining momentum is an important aspect of recovering the story, sometimes knowing what the missing piece is helps us find it and get it in place.
- If we're not sure what a character would do next, it might be because they're not doing anything. Throwing in a stimulus (hungry tiger, mother-in-law, job offer) forces them to act.
- If we're not sure where the plot is going, we might need to start exploring options. Start writing based on where the plot could be going. It may take a few attempts, but chances are we'll see what doesn't work, and that will necessarily move us toward what does.
- If we're not sure how to get the character we meet in Act I to the state of desperation/fury/lovesickness/moral confusion that he needs to reach to take drastic action in Act III... this could be tricky. It could be that this is the wrong character for the job. It could also be that this character actually needs to pursue a different course of action in Act III. Or it could be that we haven't pushed him hard enough, so we enroll in the Donald Maass school of writing; figure out what adversities and dilemmas would strike this character at the core of his beliefs, weaknesses, and fears; and write those things into Act II. As with the point above, trying different avenues will eventually lead us to the one that works. So will whiskey, beta readers, and revisions.
- If we're discouraged by our writing, it may be time for a pick-me-up. We might read a chapter from one of our favorite books (or not, if this is only going to remind us how far we are from producing at this level). We might also read some scenes that we know we've nailed or some praise for critique partners (oh yes we might). The point here isn't to forget about the faults in our writing but to tap into the energy that motivated us in the first place.