If you’re a fellow writer, then you know how difficult it can be sometimes to find what to write next, thus leaving ourselves stuck on a scene for hours (or even days). It happens to me quite a lot, especially in the book I’m currently writing. The big problem with being in this kind of situation is that we may end up getting discouraged, going as far as abandoning the project after losing any hope to find something interesting and coherent to write.
But don’t worry, dear writer who fears this moment that many call writer’s block, because if you’re stuck on a scene and have no idea on how to continue your story, then I will give you a few tips to help you overcome this obstacle.
A few days ago, I was talking with a friend outside in the cold (not the best place to hold a conversation!). He told me he was writing a book, but he got stuck on a chapter and didn’t know how to continue his story, so he asked me if I had any piece of advice for him. The following points are the pieces of advice I gave him and I believe they may help some of you during your own journey:
- Stop looking at the bigger picture: Sometimes, people advise you to look at the bigger picture in order to have a clear vision about where you’re going with your story. But what if looking at the big picture was what prevented you from moving forward? When you look at your story from scene to scene or chapter to chapter, you may end up getting stuck even if you have an idea about how you would like your story to go because you don’t know how to link each scene/chapter with each other (it happens to me too). In that case, why not taking a step back to pay attention to the smaller details, which have their own importance?
- Focus on sub-events, characters’ development and dialogues. If you’re stuck on a scene and you don’t know what to write next, then it’s time for you to focus on sub-events, characters’ development and dialogues. A sub-event is like a side story within the main story. For example, while the story is about a hero trying to save the city from his archenemy, a sub-event would be him trying to strengthen his broken relationship with his wife. However, try to keep the sub-events relevant to the main story, as not to make the reader feel like they’re reading two completely different stories within one book. You can also develop your characters, so as to make them more relatable or interesting for the reader. Work on their relationship with the other characters of your story and create/solve potential conflicts, love interests, etc. It’s also an opportunity to create or improve your dialogues. As I said in a previous post, not only dialogues help the readers get a better understanding of the characters (which makes dialogues closely linked to characters’ development) and helps them feel immersed, but dialogues are a great way to introduce new ideas that can help you cut ties with this annoying writer’s block and write the next scenes. If you take the time to go back and focus on those elements, you will surely be able to find what to write next.
- Don’t be afraid of taking a new turn in your story. This is probably the best piece of advice I can give you against writer’s block. When my friend told me he was stuck in his story, I asked him why. He answered that he had the full plot in mind, but the more he wrote, the more he grew unsatisfied with his plot. Yet he couldn’t bring himself to change the plot, being afraid of ending up with a worse story, or writing inconsistencies. That’s a big mistake. You should NOT be afraid to change your plot if you find something better to write. Take Life as an example. Life is not a straight line we follow until we die. The beauty of Life is that we are faced with several possible futures depending on the choices we make throughout our long journey. Same goes with your book. Because you start writing a book with a plot in mind doesn’t mean you can’t take a new path and change your plot at some point. Experiment, and if you’re not happy with the result, just erase and start again.