Stacy Claflin, author of four book series, shares with us her advice on what to do when you get stuck in the midst of your novel–just the Pep Talk we need for the middle of JuNoWriMo!
Do you ever get stuck at some point when writing a novel? Sometimes that middle-ish point can be the most challenging. The beginning is fun because you come in with all these ideas, and it’s exciting. The end is full action, and the writing sometimes seems to happen by itself.
Really, though, any point of the story can give the writer problems.
When you’re in the thick of it and things slow down, a lot of different variables can leave you feeling stumped. Maybe the story has gone in a different direction than you planned. You’re not sure if you need to map out a different ending or maybe look for a new path to the end you have in mind.
Or it could be that the story is right where it should be, but doubt has crept in. You know what I mean. Do I have enough material to get to the end and have it long enough? Is this as good as it could be? What if it sucks and I just can’t see it? Or maybe you feel like it is horrible, and you don’t know whether to go on or not.
That valley between the exciting peaks can feel like a wasteland.
The good news is that it doesn’t need to stay that way. There are a lot of things you can do to turn everything around and get excited about writing again.
Shake things up
One thing you can do is to set something on fire. In your story, that is. It doesn’t need to be an actual fire, but throw something at your characters that they’ll never see coming. They need to respond immediately to a surprise or a twist.
Some ways to do this is to have one character start a fight with another, or if it works in your genre, throw a dead body in the room. That will get things moving.
Still now sure how to implement this? Think about your main character and his or her motivations. What’s the worst possible thing you can do to him? Now do that. Usually, when I throw horrible things at my characters, those are the scenes readers love the most. It’s exciting to see a character pushed to the limits and overcome, from both reader’s perspective and the writer’s.
Another method you can try is writing story beats for the upcoming chapters. When I’m stuck on a story, this helps a lot and often it gets to the core of the problem.
Story beats mean different things to different writers, but for me, it’s pretty simple. I just write out a paragraph or two for each chapter I need to write. I rarely expect to write more than two or three chapters in a day, so it doesn’t take too long.
Something I’ve found with writing story beats is that the most daunting task is starting. I’m stuck, so the last thing I want to do is sit down and write about what’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s coming next. That’s the problem.
The thing with beats, however, is that they can free your mind up because you only have to write a brief overview. You don’t even have to be specific…but once you start writing, things tend to come together. It begins to make sense. Before long, you can’t wait for tomorrow’s writing session!
Have you ever been inspired to write a story line when you least expect it? One day when I was on a walk around my neighborhood, a foreclosed house gave me a great idea for the story I was writing at the time. Just the other day, a side comment from a television show gave me an idea for an entire novel.
Get outside and take your mind off the story for a while. Look around and you might be surprised where inspiration strikes. Listen to some favorite music, watch a show, read a book, pick up a magazine. Exercise: just getting your blood pumping will stimulate your brain.
Whatever you decide to do, know you’re not alone. All writers struggle with this at some point. You can do this!
Stacy doesn’t stick to a single genre in her writing, reading, or viewing. Her favorite shows include Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, Lost Girl, Vampire Diaries, and Once Upon a Time.
Stacy has been writing and telling stories for as long as she can remember. As a kid, her story telling would get her into trouble because she would try to convince others that her stories were real.
When she’s not busy writing, she likes spending time with her family and friends. She also educates her kids from home.
Check out her author website for more about Stacy (and some interesting stories and tidbits, too).
Check out Stacy’s Books or Connect with Stacy online: