This week has seen a definite unclogging of the word drain in my writing, and I’m super-excited. So excited, in fact, that I used the word “super” and even hyphenated it. Don’t judge.
I’m currently working on three distinct pieces – one, a novel, is stewing on the back burner at the moment. Two others are short stories. One of those, with a working title of Trial by Fire, had reached the point where I had written as many words as possible with what I knew about the plot, but couldn’t seem to figure out the motivation for one particular point of action between the two main characters. It was irritating me, as I knew I wanted the characters to be who I described them to be, but I didn’t know why they were meeting in this story. I didn’t know what the purpose was, or how it would end.
As a new fiction writer, it has been easy for me to flounder when I run up on these kinds of obstacles because I simply don’t know if what I’m experiencing or what is hanging me up is common for all writers, or somehow a result of something I’m doing wrong, or what. I do have friends who are writers, and I’ve read plenty of great books about writing, but when it’s me, the keyboard or notebook, and my words, it’s easy to get all tangled up in my own head and not see a way out. Maybe you know what I mean?
So, while my son was at a day camp this morning, I sat down at a little table in the corner of a bookstore and opened a notebook to a blank page and started asking myself questions; “What is the father wanting to tell the daughter?” was the first one. I then wrote three answers… one I didn’t like, one wasn’t bad, then, on the third one, I knew – THAT WAS THE ANSWER. I had finally hit on the elusive reason for their meeting, and now they can have a conversation.
WHAT A RELIEF!!!
From there, I wrote two more questions that follow from the answer to the first, and answered those. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to finally feel that drain unclog!!! I knew after I filled that page that I would be able to finish the story. I know what the arc will be, what the tension is, how my main characters will interact, and finally, how it will end.
I don’t know where the idea to write questions came from – probably something I read somewhere else – but I highly recommend it as a method of working through points in your writing that don’t make sense. Rather than just trying to “figure it out”, write out questions that would lead to an answer to your challenge – then write the first thing that comes to you. If you don’t like it, discard it and keep going.
My good friend, and fellow “almost famous” writer, Talya, also believes that being surrounded by books in a bookstore or library helps her write. After today, I am inclined to believe she’s onto something.