1. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special

    Techniques for writer's block

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Pentip, Mar 27, 2008.

    HELP!!! I have writer's block for my favorite pet project and I've been like this for the past few months. I can't get through chapter two. I posted chapter one in the Review Room under novels (entitled Halamir and Old Kalibor if anyone would like to add their comments). I don't know if this is a problem in plot development or just regular writer's block....
    I have the end result of my plot fully developed. I've re-written the characters and the setting twice, but the plot didn't change. The plot's strong, but for some reason I just can't get past the first chapter.
    Any and all help would be seriously appreciated. Please.
     
  2. lordofhats
    Offline

    lordofhats Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    2,023
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    The Hat Cave
    Writers Block... the authors Cancer... or Ebola it really depends on how you look at it :p.

    When I have writers block, I try to think about why I'm blocked. Is it a lack of interest? Not knowing where to start? Unsure where I'm going next? Once I find out why I'm blocked, its just a matter of answering the question and finding the solution.
     
  3. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    Yes, a disease.

    I'm very interested in the story, and I've already started and re-started the story several times. I know where I'm going, I just can't figure out how to get there. There's the block. I can't get where I'm going. I don't know if it's a defect in my plot or what. Perhaps I should ask in 'plot creation' and see if that helps. I've noticed that it sometimes does help with development when you're telling someone else about your plot.
     
  4. Torana
    Offline

    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,659
    Likes Received:
    128
    get an excercise book, scrapbook, whatever and write write write.

    Write phrases, lines even word that pop into your mind, draw images that pop into your head. Scribble for ten or so pages. Just write anything that comes to mind.

    If you are really stuck stop writing it, and go back to your plot and work on that. Plot out each chapter, what you want to happen, how it is to happen, why it is to happen. etc.

    Still nothing? Talk to your character, interview them, have coffee with them. <it seems odd but it does work at times> Write about how they would react to coming up against their fears, or an event that happens in life.

    Just some things that I find help me out a but anyways. I've done all of the above.

    Another thing is to pick a colour, word, object, anything, and describe it or find another word that means the same thing. It is more for poetry blockages really, but it can be a quite useful activity for any form of writing.

    Hope this helps.
    \
     
  5. Vayda
    Offline

    Vayda Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    0
    I always think stories are character driven, not plot driven. If plot is all you have to go on, maybe that's why you're having trouble?

    Think about it this way: When you're watching the TV Guide channel (don't lie, I know everyone does it) and you see a movie on, it will say the movie's title, the main actors, and then summarize the plot. So say you're watching it scroll by and you see Thelma and Louise is on. What does the plot say? Something like "Two friends go on an accidental crime spree after a night on the town."

    Um, what?

    Not a word about Thelma and Louise, is there? But when you're watching the movie, you get so caught up in the characters. Not the plot. Who gives a damn why Brad Pitt is naked. He is! And Louise is seeing it for the first time, seeing it through her abusive husband and her first chance at an actual man, and who can't watch that and be elated? And the very first scene, you're just as angry as they are, it wasn't their fault! You couldn't prosecute them! Oh my God, they had better run. And when it gets to the ending...SPOILER ALERT STOP NOW IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE and they drive into the Grand Canyon, committing suicide...you smile. You look at that last freeze frame and know it's a symbol of their immortality, their everlasting friendship, their undying care and love for their best friend, through and till the end. You understand. They have to keep going, there's no stopping now.

    Is any of that summarized in "Two friends go on an accidental crime spree after a night on the town"? No...it's not. The story is driven by the characters, not the plot. So no matter how good the plot of your novel is, it's the characters that are going to make us keep reading. Develop your characters to the point where you can take one of those silly online surveys that ask a thousand "What's your favorite color? Food? Plate design? Brand of electric mixer?" type questions in your character's voice without even thinking about it.




    Woah, that was a bit of a tangent...not my intention, haha
     
  6. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    Urg... sounds like story board stuff to me... Though, doing the story board did help a lot with my last short story. But I don't really plot out my chapters in advance. I end and start them where-ever it seems they should end and start.
    I'll try. But part of the problem is that I can't think of anything to write at the moment.
     
  7. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    A tangent? You mean a mile-long-completely-confusing-no-end-in-site-wow-that's-some-energetic-and-really-hyper-and-health- rabbit-trail? To sum up, WHAT? I've never even heard of that movie, and I don't watch that channel because I don't have cable... or anything else, for that matter.

    I guess I include a little more in my plot than other people. To me, your plot and your characters are intimately connected. You can't have the one without the other, because the outcome of the plot feeds off the nature, emotions, and actions of your characters. The nature, emotions, and actions of your characters depend entirely upon what's going on in the story. You can tell what's going to happen at the end, but how are you going to get there unless your characters are doing what they're supposed to be doing? You can tell what your characters are feeling, but what sense does it make unless you tell what's going on around them?
    I know my characters, they're a part of me. I don't need to do those.. character chart thingies that frustrate me so. They are part of my plot. They were born with the plot (like twins or something).
    Frankly, I don't know what's wrong with my story, why I can't progress.
     
  8. soujiroseta
    Offline

    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Messages:
    199
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Harare, Zimbabwe
    like torana i suggest you just write. until you fall asleep. whether it be on paper tissue or whatever, so long as you're writing something, it doesn't matter if you think it's garbage.
    i usually find that going to hang out at a cafe and write on the napkins gives me a good i dont care sense and i can write freely and unclog the creative pipes. just try to find a place where you can write without the inhibition of 'this has to be perfect', write something different for a couple of days and see how it works out. it works for me and a lot of other writers ive met. hope i helped
     
  9. Vayda
    Offline

    Vayda Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, what movies have you seen? Sheesh. I'll guess you've seen the Lion King, since you mention something similar in your signature. The basic plot of the Lion King is a young lion runs away from his right to the throne and eventually comes home to save his kingdom.

    Whoo-friggin-hoo. It's Simba, Nala, Timon, Pumba, Scar, Mufassa, and Rafiki (the monkey) that make the story so captivating.

    Or how about a book example? A young Wizard named Harry Potter must defeat the greatest evil wizard of the century, or die trying.

    Well sure that does sound a little interesting, but the series is what, five thousand pages? You don't trudge your way through 700+ pages in the fifth Harry Potter book because you care about the plot, because there's really not any more plot in that book than there is in the more modest 300 page third book. But the characters develop so much....

    I often have trouble writing longer works because I can't come up with an overarching plot, so it's definitely a good thing to have, and indeed, a necessity for the story, especially in a fantasy story, which so often revolves around a quest. But without the characters, I don't care how good the plot is, I couldn't write more than a chapter either. I wouldn't know what to do.

    And curse you for replying to my tangent, you made it longer!!! >_<



    On topic, really the only way to get past writer's block is to write your ass off, or wait it out. I'm a wait it out'er myself. But it seems like it would dissipate much faster if i would sit down and just write anything i could.
     
  10. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    Thanks a lot guys, I'll take these tips in for future reference, but for now, I figured out the problem: music.
    Whenever I write, normally, I have some sort of music going. I find classical music keeps my creative pipes clean while I write and keeps me focused. When I turned it on, I got going again.
    Thanks anyway. I'm sure I'll need these tips later when music won't help, though I'll probably forget them anyway.
     
  11. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    If you really would prefer to wait it out, why didn't you just say so and have done with it? Then I wouldn't have replied to your tangent, we could have all gone on our merry ways and forgotten all about it the next day. I mean, goodness, you didn't even say anything about waiting it out the first run through. It took until the very end of your second post to say anything about it at all.
    And since you had to go through another tangent, I have to reply again :)
    I get your whole thing about the previews, because that's one of my pet peeves as well, but more because it doesn't have anything of the story in it, just one character and the end result. Come ON!!! So much more happened.
    As for Harry Potter, I like the books and all, but I think Rowling overdeveloped her characters just a little bit. Harry was just a little annoying by the end of book five, but she slacked off on six and seven and came to a nice ending. I mean, that's the whole point of fantasy, to get away from the real world, not to have the real world mimicked by the characters. Sure, they have to seem real, but not so real as you might run into them at the super-market. Do you honestly think of running into superman in Walmart? Besides people dressed like him? Or what about ... Sauron or Souroman at Bilo? That would be just a little bit unsettling, don't you think?
    Now look, I'm off on rabbit trails!
     
  12. Vayda
    Offline

    Vayda Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    0
    I couldn't make it through the end of LoTR (I know, sacrilege) because at the end it was just moving too slowly for me. But I did read the Hobbit and the first LoTR book. And I disagree with you completely. I hate characters that are unreal, too perfect, they're contrived and cliched and bothersome. Bilbo Baggins was a flawed character, with very human weaknesses. Although I don't like how angsty Harry got in the fifth book, I appreciate that he did capture the essence of a fifteen year old kid. When fantasy removes itself from the real world, I think it has the unique opportunity to be both a commentary on reality as well as a philosophical expose (sp?) as well as an excellent story.
    Take, for instance, another thing you won't have seen, Star Trek: Voyager. The episode today dealt with the issue of saving one of the crew members (B'Elanna, for anyone that follows the series) from an alien life form that had attached itself to her and was sapping her life away. The Doctor did not know how to save her, so he created an assistant: a holographic recreation of the greatest xenobiologist ever, who happened to be a Kardassian (read: Bad guy.) The new assistant could save B'Elanna, but doing so would validate and make it seem like the Federation (read: good guys) approved of the Kardassian research methods. All of which were eerily reminiscent of the techniques used during WWII on the Jews by the Angel of Death.

    So, this one episode of a TV show became a moral argument, (do you save your crew member with knowledge gained by the torture and wrongful death of hundreds, or let her die knowing you COULD save her) a historical commentary, (look at what these humans did and how it appears from an outside perspective) and a simple episode of a scifi show (OMG Janeway totally kept her cool while Paris was slamming on Chakotay for not wanting to save B'Elanna, and Seven of Nine....)



    damnit. that was a totally different tangent than the first one.
     
  13. Edward
    Offline

    Edward Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    Messages:
    312
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Virginia
    I've been going to Anime Mid-Atlantic for the last three years, nothing like Darth Vader and his entourage of Stormtroopers hitting on Sailor Moon. Seeing Sauron at the Supermarket would be great.
     
  14. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    I don't like your language, but I love your tangents. Rabbit trails.
    It is sacrilege! I couldn't put them down when I first got my hands on them, and I was (calculating) ten! I don't mean perfect characters, I mean... too deep characters. A book is a temporary haven from the real world where everything is predictable and goes as planned. The second time you read it, nothing changes. They're not your best friends because they're not real. I'm speaking in terms of children who are hiding in their books. I love reading, I love the characters, but there is such a thing as too much, especially to a younger child. And Harry Potter is supposed to be for younger children (though I disagree).
    To contradict, I have seen Voyager, though not in a while. I have seen at least five episodes (probably more) of each different Star Trek series, plus most of the movies. Voyager was my favorite of the series (I can't think of the name of it, but the movie with the whales is my favorite of the movies). I liked Janeway and Kirk better. Cisco was OK, but I didn't like Piccard. I liked... what's his face, Piccard's #1 and Dianna Troy, and Data, Leforge (I have no idea how to spell any of these), the doctor and Wesley... ect. I know Star Trek. We used to have cable. My favorite of the episodes was Trouble with Tribbles, the old and the new.
    I don't remember that particular episode, but that was a long time ago.
    So what was Seven doing? Was this before or after she and Chakotay started to date?
     
  15. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    I'm almost afraid to ask, but what is Anime Mid-Atlantic?
     
  16. Vayda
    Offline

    Vayda Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    0
    Anime Mid-Atlantic is a convention where people dress up as their favorite movie, anime, cartoon, book, video game, etc. characters (called "cosplay," short for "costume play")

    Although I appreciate meeting another semi-trekkie, I disagree with this:
    No it's not! Not everything should be predictable! Characters should wrestle with decisions! We shouldn't go into the seventh book knowing who will live and who will die, or whether or not Snape was on the right side. Things that are unfair and inexplicable should happen, like Cedric Diggory's death - a total innocent who had never done anything wrong, and isn't Harry to blame, because he insisted Cedric take the cup with him? We should be shocked when our characters do unpredictable things! Sometimes there's no write answer to a situation, and i HATE reading a book where Batman can save his girlfriend, or Robin (Who are you really, Batman or Bruce Wayne?) and he manages to save them both. Show me Spiderman, who has to choose between avenging the death of his aunt/uncle by killing his best friend's father, or letting it go unpunished and potentially putting more people at risk. Show me a flawed character. Maybe someone with supernatural strength, inhuman powers, but human failings and faults.

    I'm glad you disagree that Harry Potter is made for younger children, because Rowling has said over and over (i'll find a source if you desire) that she thinks it's completely inappropriate for anyone under about 10 or so, and that's the early books. She didn't start reading them to her own daughter until she was 8, and then they read them together. It's much more adult fiction than you would think, considering the publisher is Scholastic.

    It was before Seven and Chakotay hooked up, and she wasn't doing a whole lot, actually, I just happened to think of her name.

    Edit: I re-read what you said about little children disappearing in books ala Matilda. To that, I must say two things: One, which is better, books or TV? And two, I was under the impression we were talking about adult fiction here..I certainly don't write for children, and children's books, like cartoons, SHOULD be predictable
     
  17. -NM-
    Offline

    -NM- Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    3
    Replying simply to the original post:

    It is my opinion that there is no such thing as "writer's block". Everyone has trouble at some stages of writing, it is natural when you are doing something such as writing, but it is not a "block".

    I have found that during difficult stages in my writing, it is best to just push on and make yourself write even if you don't really feel like it, you can always go back and change bits later if you don't like what you wrote. But you can't rely on "inspiration" all the time, a lot of writing is grueling and is difficult, and you need to learn to deal with that. ;-)

    If you are truely stuck and find yourself just sitting there writing absolutely nothing, try and clear your head and take your mind off it for a few hours - go for a walk or something ;-)
     
  18. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    Frankly, I have no idea what we're talking about anymore, and I have no idea why I said that. I guess what I meant is that every time you read a book, it shouldn't change, and you shouldn't expect it to change. Children are impressionable. If they read something and like what they read, they model their entire lives and mindsets around that thing. (which is precisely why Harry Potter should be moved from the children's section in the library. And I'm glad to hear that Rowling knows the rating of her own book).
    I know what you mean. Books shouldn't have a predictable ending (besides children's books). Though, I did know that none of the three MCs in the seventh book was going to die, including Harry, I just didn't know how Rowling was going to pull that off. But that's part of it too. You can know how it's going to end (after all, who's going to write a book where nothing whatsoever changed and everything descends into darkness, besides Shakespeare?), just not how the writer is going to reach that end.
    I love Matilda. It could almost be an example of a comedy (i.e., starting out with an ideal situation, then things descend into tragedy, and at the end, rise back up into a good situation. Not many people know the real definition of comedy). In certain ways, bad TV and bad books can be equally damaging, but I understand what you're saying.
    We were talking about adult fiction, I just don't know how we got off that topic.. My family says this about me all the time: She can talk herself in circles. I think this is one of those situations.
     
  19. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    You contradict yourself. Wouldn't a problem or a jam, as it were, in writing be just the same as a block? Writer's block is just another name for any sort of problem a writer has. Lack of inspiration, too many thoughts, getting tired, tired of your story, tired of writing. In my case it was lack of something my brain is used to when I'm writing: my music. I know, with me, that when I'm trying to write something and I can't think of something to write, I look up solutions for writers block. I always have and always will. For some reason it helps me until I can figure out some solution that works for me (I always wind up thinking those wackos when I get the really weird solutions, like standing on your head for ten minutes). Or just reading something else helps. Whatever.
     
  20. -NM-
    Offline

    -NM- Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    3
    No.

    No such thing as "Writers block". It is no different from any difficult stages in any work when you are starting to lack inspriation, enthusiasm or whatever it is you need to work, but just because it's writing doesn't make the problem special or different and warrant it's own title - "writer's block".

    You may disagree, but as far as i am concerned that is the way it is.

    Only way to deal with problems like that is to just push on and do it anyway, already explained that in my other post. ;-)
     
  21. Torana
    Offline

    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,659
    Likes Received:
    128
    Though if you want to get technical it is in the dictionary...here is what WRITER'S BLOCK apparently means.

    writ·er’s block


    situation when writer cannot write: an inability on the part of a writer to start a new piece of writing or continue an existing one
    Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
     
  22. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    I think anything having to do with writers warrants its own title, problem or not. In any case, any problem could be considered a block, and if it's a writer who's having the problem, you can call that problem a "writer's" block.
    Don't mind me. I like to argue.
     
  23. Pentip
    Offline

    Pentip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2008
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    No where special
    So, there is such a thing as writer's block. It has it's own dictionary reference and everything. Though, using that logic, one could successfully say that 'aint' is a word. *Shivers* That's a sad commentary in and of itself.
     
  24. SnipSnap
    Offline

    SnipSnap Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    Messages:
    410
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Clinton, Illinois
    I'd like to point that four tangents have inadvertantly been created in this thread, and they all became secants.
     
  25. -NM-
    Offline

    -NM- Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    3
    Why?
     

Share This Page