Recently I went through another bout of Writer’s Block.
Actually, I hit this particular wall some months ago. It was while I was still working on the original 1st draft of “The Door” when I encountered the block and it was a doozy. No matter what direction I tried to take the novel in, things just seemed to get more complicated and confusing. Too many characters, too many plot points and subplots going.
In the end I wound up working on “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” story. I had a pretty clear vision of where I wanted to go with that one so I worked on it instead. I did this partly in the hopes of having a breakthrough with where I’d left off with “The Door”, but in the end I never got past it.
Even when I completed the first draft for “The Vampyre Blogs” I wasn’t any closer to getting past my block with “The Door”. Now anyone who’s dealt with a severe case of Writer’s Block will tell you that it can be a real pain in the butt. Especially when you can’t seem to find a way around the bugger. No matter which way you turn, forward, left, or right, you can’t seem to get past it.
Well, I finally decided to go back the way I came and see if I could find another method by going over my old tracks (or in this case my previous novels).
This actually worked for me because “The Door” was directly connected to my two previous novels “The Bridge” and “The Ship”. Most of the same characters were involved so I had something to work with. While going over the previous books I started to notice little details I had just thrown in here and there for flavor or setting. And it was there I found that I had inadvertently left a trail of breadcrumbs that I could follow, which I did. Soon I saw a whole new direction that I could take “The Door” in that I had never even considered before. What made it even better was the fact that it was a path that was very clear, at least from a writer’s point of view. I could plan out little twists and turns to take the reader on, while at the same time still see exactly where things should land up.
Again these details seemed minor when I first put them into the previous novels, but now they were giving new life to the story and it was exhilarating. Who might have known who? Was one of the breadcrumbs I’d left behind in the first story. The audience knew a relationship had existed between these two characters, but the ‘leads’ in my story were totally unaware of the connection. Upon realizing this I got an idea of how that information could be learned, prompting whole new scenes and plots for “The Door”.
Another little crumb came from yet another 1st draft that I plan on getting back to next year. A portrait that hangs in one room was to play a part in that story. But then it occurred to me that the portrait could be used now in a way no one would’ve expected. An alteration was made to it that will become a huge revelation for my heroes in “The Door”.
So right there, an unfinished subplot along with an innocuous piece of setting suddenly provided me with the means to start racing along with the story once more. I still have a ways to go, but at least I feel more on course with the book.
Now this does not necessarily work with all cases of Writer’s Block, but you can add it to your writer’s toolbox. And it doesn’t necessarily have to involve other works you’ve got going. There might be a piece of scenery or a character quirk inside the story you’re working on. Look around see what you’ve done, you never know when you’ll find you accidentally left a trail of breadcrumbs in your wake that might lead to a breakthrough in your story.
So until next time, take care and keep writing.