Monday, November 12, 2012



Or: [BAMF subtitle HERE]

Criticism looks like: "I don't know what to write next." Or "What happens next?" Or "The words just won't come!" 

The comments don't appear on your WIP because you haven't even finished your WIP! This is you, saying you have Writer's Block. 

Why am I writing about that instead of addressing a completed WIP? Cuz it's November! NaNoWriMo! Fellow Wrimo's are heading into the second(ish) week of the month, and I want to make sure they've got tools they can use. (Actually, anyone can use the techniques here at any moment in time.) So I'm not going to blog about Pacing, Details, Filtering, or our friends Showvee and Telle. Thinking about this schtuff might slow you down. Now is not the time to self-edit and self-criticize.

Write the damn story. Fix it in post. (And the more you revise, the better your first drafts get!)

Inspiration from the SF Zoo:
 "The Honorable Judge Jamison charged me with contempt after I called him a blue-faced, pustule-covered, sad, impotent, holiday main course."

Let me get opinionated for a mo. I don't believe Writer's Block exists. It's an inconvenience. Or, a convenient excuse. Like "I know what happens further on, but I don't know how to get there. I have Writer's Block." Or "I do know what happens next, but I don't know how to write it." Or simply "I have nothing to write." 

There's a Quick Fixes for two of three:
1. If you're stuck at a point in your story, but you know what happens just over the hump, in fact, you're aching to write what happens just over the hump, then f*cking skip the hump! Chances are, it's an eye-gougingly boring hump. "After Chester killed Mayor Bugaboo, he made himself a sandwich, disposed of the body, and confronted Mayor Bugaboo's sister." 

Do I need to see Chester making the damn sandwich? No. Do I need to know how he disposed of the body? Maybe. Do I want to see what happens when Chester confronts Mayor Bugaboo's sister? Hell yeah. Especially if she's gonna reveal something cray cray. 

Inspiration from real life:
"I had to take him home or be fired. The stakes were... high."

2. If you're stuck at a point in your story that's integral to plot/character/theme development and yes, by all that's holy it needs to be in the damn story but you don't know how to write an action scene/love scene/sex scene/murder scene, then use these buttons on your computer: [ and ]. Between those brackets, write: BAMF action scene/love scene/sex scene/murder scene HERE. 

Should look like: [BAMF action scene here] (BAMF stands for Bad*ss MoFo. Of, if you don't cuss, you can make up your own acronym. Like, Super Cute Awesome Terrific [SCAT murder scene HERE] or Incredibly Precious And Devastating [IPAD love scene HERE]. 

That's your placeholder. Continue writing and go back when you think you can do your scene justice. I know, I know, it's an awesome scene that will make people cry/laugh/go WTF just happened. But it's stopping you. It's a red light at a defunct intersection. SKIP IT. It's still going to be there when you're ready for it. 

 Inspiration from old family photo albums:
"Elves are born able to do fundamental magics. That's why they live in stone houses. Because of the tantrums."

When you're all done with your WIP, crack open the book of a master and find the necessary tools. Need to do action? What verbs did your fave author use? How were the sentences structured? Commas? Length? How about a love scene. How did your fave author convey the right emotions at the right time? Adjectives? Flashbacks? A murder scene could be a combination of the two. What senses were engaged? 

Point is, when doing a project, sometimes you do have to walk away from part of it until you've got the right tools. Might need a bone saw, might need quilling tweezers. Whatev. Specialty stores ain't open 24/7. Nothing wrong with that. An inconvenience.

Inspiration from an incredibly self-indulgent emo journal entry.
"I think that's why the vampire chose me. Because I was emo too. Yes, I was emo too."

 Now, put your yoga pants on and let's get metaphysical:

It's so freaking easy to have a phrase for the blank page, the faltering plot, the strangely, suddenly silent character: Writer's Block! 

What do you really mean when you say it? Pin it down. Are you tired? Hungry? Sick of your protag? Realized how lame the BFF is? Completely unsure of where your story's going?

Sometimes, you do just need some rest, water, or a snack. Sometimes, you do just need to put in a placeholding [BAMF scene] here. Sometimes, though, you do need to take a break – not stop – from the story and find inspiration. Don't call it Writer's Block – a block is dense and implies difficulty. As a writer, you should be aware of a word's power. Call it a Writer's Pause. F*ck it, let's give it a badass name. 

I have Writer's [BAMF new name here]! 

This is you, giving yourself permission to be inspired rather than fooling yourself with an obstacle, a Block. The universe is full of inspiration. An old love letter. A journal entry. A riveting scene in an action movie. An article in Popular Science. A tabloid header. A meme. A word in the bible. Catastrophe. Castration. Empowerment. Rebirth.

Inspiration from everyday life:
I see at least 5 new themes to explore in this photo. How many can you find?

Ok, enough with the metaphysical pep talk.

Let's put our serious pants on: 
Here are some techniques (tested and approved by my writing group) you can use right now to get moving – maybe not in the direction you planned to go, but movement is movement. 

1.      Think: What's the worst thing that can happen to my protag? Make him face it/avoid it/outsmart it.

2.      Go back to the last decision your protag made and flip it.

"At the Bee Crossing, Jakken considered going left. He went right instead. And his life was yadda yadda..."

3.      Go for a walk or take a hot shower. This is not a relaxing break. You're getting alone time with your characters. Talk to them. Find out why they won't act or speak or tell you what to write next. Maybe what happens next is so disturbing to your protag, he can't even talk about it. Seriously. You don't even want to know. But you have to know, so ask his friends (other characters in your story) what really happened. IOW, look at the scene from another POV.

4.      When you're wrapping up for the day, stop short. Don't push to the chapter's end. Or if you do, push into the next one. Don't leave the story where it feels good to leave it. Rather, stop just before you tie up a loose end, kill someone, whatev. That way, you have a scene in your head for your next writing session.

5.      [BAMF Obligatory don't give up message HERE]

Keep your chin up, Skippy. You're only playing with lives.

Coming up: 
Mssrs. Showvee and Telle

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