Welcome back to Confessions of a Sophomore Author. When I was thinking of what to write about in this second instalment, I was inspired by my work on my current manuscript. Or rather the backtracking I’ve recently been doing…
It all began as, deeply in love with my manuscript, I’m working away, flying through the pages, and suddenly I can’t seem to make a scene work. It’s like pulling teeth. That awful phenomenon called writer’s block enters your head. And you think maybe I’m just having a bad writing day. I’ll just get something down and work it out tomorrow. Tomorrow comes, you attack the story with renewed vigour and.. the same thing happens. Progress grinds to a halt.
This is when I know I don’t have writer’s block. That instead, there is something inherently wrong with my story and I need to fix it. For me it’s often the two biggies. Either I haven’t built the story out properly and my key turning points aren’t working. Or, more often, my characters have done something out of character. They aren’t acting true to who they are or they aren’t acting according to the GMC – the goal, motivation and conflict - I’ve built for them. When this happens nothing feels right. You have to go back, figure out where they took a wrong turn, did something out of character, and fix it. Revisiting those core GMC building blocks and making sure my characters are acting according to them in every scene generally gives me that light bulb moment.
Or, as with my manuscript this past week, it can work in reverse. I had my story built, my characters had very clear identities and GMCs, but when I actually set a key secondary character loose in the middle of the book, one who would drive a crucial aspect of the external plot for my hero and heroine to act within, he took the story places I didn’t want it to go. He set a tone I didn’t want for my romance. When I finally figured out what was happening, I had to change his backstory, change his GMC to fit the story, the romance I wanted to tell. Yes this meant backtracking and rewriting, but once I had done this, the story worked and that scene moved along. The block was gone.
Cue relieved husband.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. As I work on my fifth book, I’m learning that some books are that glorious experience where they seem to write themselves. Others you have to work harder at to make them sing. But I’m generally pretty prolific. So if I’m struggling to put words down, it’s usually time to go back to basics and figure out what isn’t working.
In saying all this, I’m not sure Writer’s Block is actually this blank phenomenon so many of us envision—this black hole in our heads. I think it’s a sign we need to look deeper at our story, at the core of who our characters are to resolve it.
What do you think? I’m interested in your perspective. Do you get Writer’s Block? Do you think it exists? And how do you get rid of it?
If you'd like to read an excerpt of my current release, book two of my Delicious De Campos, An Exquisite Challenge, you can find it here! Have a great month!