You worked on your manuscript for weeks, but it screeched to a halt and now you’re stalled. It may be tempting to throw it in a drawer, but that’s not what professionals do. Try some of these ideas to get your novel rolling again.
- Just keep writing, even poorly, and fix it later.
- Write about anything you want. Describe something and watch what happens.
- Play the What If… game. What if your character goes spelunking? What if they lose what they most love? Get what they most want? Are stalked by a sibling? Are allergic to seafood? Have a crush on a bull rider? Get a mysterious text?
- Read an advice column but don’t read the answer, just use the problem.
- Make up a wild title and write to the title like Bill Myers’s My Life As a Smashed Burrito with Extra Hot Sauce.
- Weave in something from your own life: The cat that slept in your fiddle case, the goose you took home from the pond, your most embarrassing moment.
- Put the character in a new setting: On a dog sled, at the South Pole, on a movie lot, in a factory that makes plastic doggie doo-doo.
- Research a weird fact and add it to your story.
- Write a prologue (or epilogue) to your story. For Jerry Jenkins, that developed into several prequels for the Left Behind series.
- Write an intriguing line.
- “You ever killed anything?” (Dean Koontz)
- “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (Charles Dickens)
- “Marley was dead: to begin with.” (Charles Dickens)
- Add a unique occupation. A modern sheep shearer. A sequin maker. A farrier who moonlights as a tattoo artist.
- Ask your character questions.
- DiAnn Mills recommends recalling your most painful experience. How did that event look, smell, taste, sound, feel? Plunge your character into a situation that evokes those strong emotions.
- DiAnn also forces her characters to choose between two wrongs.
- Have fun. Be outrageous.
Be encouraged. Stalling happens. But it’s no excuse to give up. Your readers will never know you had a rough patch.
PeggySue Wells is the author of a dozen titles including What To Do When You’re Scared To Death, and Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After.