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Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Well, I'm Stuck
Question of the day: I went to NYC to talk to agents about the novel I'm writing. Several requested pages when I'm finished. Guess what? Now I'm stuck.
Ah yes. That old adage all-too-frequently proves true: that it is much easier to start a novel than to finish one. In fact, while I don't have any concrete stats to back me up, I'd gander that at least 75% of people who start a book don't finish it, because, let's face it, it's a hell of a lot easier to come up with a fancy concept that can generate a few chapters than to see that fancy concept (and all of the twists and turns) to page 300.
This isn't a slam at all. Just a simple writing fact of life.
So here's what I recommend. I've found in the past, whenever I get stuck, it's because I don't have enough going on with my characters and their lives and their sundry problems. So if I'm at a literal loss for words, I try to come up with another obstacle, another problem to throw in their path. Make them miserable; make their lives fall apart. You'll inevitably generate momentum because you'll HAVE to find a way to write them out of the hole you've place them in. Put a kink in their marriage, fire them from their job, send their father off a cliff (okay, figuratively speaking). Examine your character's life from all angles and see where it can go wrong.
Exposition - chattering off what's going on inside your character's head - can sink a book faster than a lot of authors realize. Don't get stuck in an actionless plot. Create the action and the pages will soon follow.