Tag Archives: writer

Such a Time As This: 5 Steps to Demolishing Writer’s Block.

The greatest form of Writer’s Block is lack of time (it’s really lack of scheduling time, but for now, let’s just call it time).

Well, now you do!

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Break that Block!

I’m not suggesting you abuse your Work from Home status if you are working from home for your day job, but there’s commute time-savings that can now be devoted to writing that book you’ve been meaning to write.

I know, I know, the first week or two was all about binge watching TV, but that gets old fast. There’s only so much yardwork. Grab that laptop and get comfy. Here are a few tips for getting started.

  1. You don’t have to begin at the beginning. Eventually you’ll have to write that, but that scene that’s been clawing at your mind? Write that. If you’re afraid of writing a book, don’t, just write chapters. You can assemble them all later. That’s the Post-It Note method of writing. You write all the juicy stuff, then fill in what’s needed. (I’m going to plug Scrivener again, because it’s GREAT for this method).
  2. Get to know your character. If the character is single, how would they write his or her dating profile for an online link-up site? You don’t have to include that in the book, it may be something your character would never do… that’s OK because it’s just about getting to know how your characters thinks about themselves. Alternatively, you can create their LinkedIn profile or any other kind of profile the characters would write about themselves.
  3. Write Your Character’s Eulogy. It’s said that there are two ways people think about you, the expedient way for day to day interaction—which can be harsh, truthful, and oh-so-private—and their cleaned-up way. This is the kind of thing that would be shared as a Eulogy, which has its own kind of truth. In the first way, they look at the worst, in the second, the best. Your story will display the expedient way. This eulogy is the subtext of how one character views another. For example, I had a college friend who was selfish, deceitful, and opportunistic. He was also knowledgeable, talented, and fun to be around. We operated out of both, but the negative was close to mind for survival, yet the positive influenced everything we did.
  4. Write the Travel Article. Where do your characters live? What is the setting? How would each character write a travel article? Some would be disparaging, others lyrical, others selling the place. How characters think about their setting is important.
  5. Figure out your best entry point and exploit it. I love beginnings. That’s where I start. However, if I think in terms of Acts, a story has at least three beginnings, one for each act. When I get stuck, I can write the beginning of Act Two or Act Three. That would give me tentpoles from which to swing, so filling in the story is easy. My son likes to write action, those are his tentpoles. What are yours?

We may be staying home for a while. We can see that as a negative, or we can see it as a positive.

How do YOU get started?

Building Trust with your Readers

One of my favorite authors died a couple years ago, but his characters live on under different writers. Some have been OK, some have been Not OK, a couple, IMO, have been bad.

Get tight with your reader

When I saw my favorite character’s first other-written novel, I quickly picked it up off the library shelf, looking forward to reading about my female PI friend.

Let me say that I usually read a book through to the end. Of late, if I don’t like a book, I’ll set it down after a few chapters.

This was the first time I dropped a book at the first sentence.

What should have been an easy opening was so badly written I lost complete trust in the author. I don’t know how that line got by editors, but WOW it stank. I showed it to a friend and he blinked, snapped the book shut and said, “That stupid sentence is going to haunt me for days.”

I’m dead serious. It was that bad.

More than anything else, the first sentence, paragraph and chapter is all about building trust with your reader. That is done with:

  • A strong opening that is…
  • Well written with…
  • Proper grammar in the narrative that includes…
  • A hook that grabs me and has…
  • No typos that…
  • Gives me a solid glimpse of a character I can care about with empathy, curiosity, anger, disgust, or any other strong feeling. What we have to avoid is, “who care?” or apathy toward the characters.

This is how you build trust, because a book is all about trust. The reader is trusting the author that reading this won’t be a waste of time, that you the writer knows what you’re doing, that the reader will be satisfied by the story.

In The Amazing Voyage II, Isaac Asimov’s lead character came off like an idiot. He wasn’t asking any of the questions that a normal human being would ask, or catch any obvious issues presented by the character. Then at the end, we suddenly find out that the main guy DID catch everything. Through the whole book I’m calling that guy an idiot, then the flip came, and I felt cheated. I want to read the Foundation series, but I don’t trust the writer. I read that book 30 years ago and still don’t trust Asimov. Without trust, you aren’t going to invest hours in the book.

Asimov’s mistake was in making the errors so obvious that I caught them all. Had he been more subtle and the main character had to uncover the errors for me, I would have been fine, but we expect our main characters to be at least as smart as we are. Typically with mysteries, the detective solves the clues as we go along. In the first place, Asimov’s character had to use copious exposition at the end (where it never belongs). By doing so, he told us we had never known the character, which is a requirement of a story. Even the unreliable narrator makes everything fall into place at the end. It works because we never distrusted the UN or thought the UN was an idiot). He wasn’t an unreliable narrator, Asimov was an unreliable storyteller.

Trust is vital. Earn it.