My fourth book Candleburn is on Amazon for FREE! You can download it here.
Now that I’ve got past that shameless self promotion, here’s the bit on Writer’s Block.
I know plenty of authors who suffer from it.
When I ask them why they’re stuck, they often give me a variety of replies ranging from “I’m out of ideas” to “I can’t think what comes next” to “I’m just not sure any of this is making any sense”.
A conversation usually flows about the advice from famous authors – much of which seems to involve the abuse of substances of various legalities. Except for Raymond Chandler – who simply said: “When I get stuck, I have two guys burst through the door, guns blazing.”
They then usually ask me how I overcome the problem and are surprised (presumably also slightly irritated) that I don’t suffer from it.
The reason is: I don’t write linearly.
If you’re shocked by this (some people are) remember – it’s your book. No-one else will read it until you’re finished. They won’t care that you wrote page 150 before you did page 10.
How does it work?
That’s simple: write the bits you know.
SO… I’ve written seven novels now and I’ve pretty much got my routine down pat.
1. I write the opening 500 to 1500 words.
This sets the tone for the book. It gives me my voice. I’ll know if I’m writing in first person singular or third person omni or second or whatever. I’ll have my style – and I’ll have the key opening theme.
2. If I’m writing a book I’ll know either (or both) the key main climax and/ or ending.
I write these next. Sometimes the ending and sometimes the main climax.
3. The novel is beginning to take shape now. If it’s going to be 30ish chapters long (I write thrillers with chapters typically 5-15 pages in length) then I probably now have something that theoretically would look like:
4. While writing these, other ideas will be percolating (“bear attacks… I haven’t had enough bear attacks…” and “The hero is going to fall in love but she’ll be sassy and reject him”). Because these peaks in the story are ideas are in my head, I type them out. I’ll have rough but not perfect idea where they fit. If they’re in the wrong spot later, I can cut and paste them to a new location – or delete if they slow things down.
5. These ideas will form other ideas – how did I get from my opening to Peak 1? How does Peak 1 lead to Peak 2? Do I need Peak 3 or 4 in there as well?
6. Finally, it’s just a matter of sewing these scenes together.
In that way, I don’t get writer’s block. I stick to one simple rule: I write the bits I know. And then I sew them together.
posted by Jack Hayes
on May, 15