I’m in the midst of working on my next novel (The Reanimation of Robert) and really hit a big ol’ block. I was looking for every excuse to get out of writing. That’s what I get for yammering about how swell this book was going. *KARMA MOMENT*
I’ve suffered from enough moments of Writer’s Block to look for a few key things that signal what’s triggering my block:
A) I need a break and should go to bed.
B) Go back in the story to the most recent part I love. Delete everything that happens afterwards.
(Editor’s note: This is dangerous territory. After a recent *ahem* over-deleting episode, I’ve started a messy compilation of “deleted scenes” that I can reference back to if needed.)
C) Look for a wrong direction I’ve taken in the story. The best clue for this is…my characters start arguing with each other. Over nothing important or essential to the story. I’m talking really. Stupid. Stuff.
I can’t describe it any better than the below: An example of both points B &C – a deleted excerpt from The Reanimation of Robert. I’ve had to remove a few things to avoiding giving away too much…because hopefully you’ll read the finished book. Void of blather like this.
-Begin dramatic episode-
At work, Piper opened shop solemnly, only half listening to Zelda’s recount of her adventures the night before. She watched the clock until around the time that Robert would be expected. The bell rang and Robert appeared, right on time.
“I need to take -” Piper started.
“I know, I know. You need your break. Just go,” Zelda sighed impatiently.
Before Robert could even order, Piper came and took his arm. He faltered, completely set off track by this change in routine.
“I think I may have made a mistake,” Piper whispered, pulling him against the wall.
“How so?” Robert whispered back.
“The____. I don’t think you should go back.”
Robert blinked, his expression going from confusion to surprise. “You know I went to see____?”
“Yes, I’m sorry,” Piper continued. “I thought ___ would help. But I think, actually I know, ___ believes you_______.”
“Everyone thinks I ______,” Robert said coldly.
Piper sighed. “___ told me…some things. About your appointments.”
Robert set his jaw. “Thank you, but ____ helping me,” he said with finality.
Piper raised an eyebrow but shook her head. Robert turned to join the long line that had grown at the counter with only one barista working.
“So did it work?” Piper asked loudly from behind him.
Robert looked over his shoulder. He paused for a long time, his mind clicking over the question again and again.
“____’s homework for you. Did it work?” Piper asked again, walking up to Robert.
Robert looked around, suddenly aware of the eyes turning to look at him.
“Soy latte, please,” he said simply.
Piper sighed sharply and pushed past him. Disregarding the next in line, she quickly prepared Robert’s latte and brought it to him. She walked up to him and shoved the cup in his face.
“Here. Because I know you never hear me.”
-End dramatic episode-
What do you think – should I stop writing novels and write scripts for soap operas instead? Complete with “impatient dramatic sighs?” *Sigh* Oh well, it’s out from the book. It took me a few days to realize “What in the world are they fighting about? This is so dumb. Get that crap outta my story! Onward!”
I guess my point here is to take cues from your story. It may sound simple, but sometimes simple is easy to miss. These characters are supposed to be comrades. The few paragraphs before this excerpt contained a key moment that was a wrong direction for the story. So, in response, I suppose my characters decided to bicker in the coffee shop and it flagged me. And removing that wrong direction got me over my block.
So thanks, Piper and Robert. For fighting in a coffee shop for the good of the story.