FIVE MAVEN WRITING TIPS FOR SEPTEMBER – STUCK?

The Mavens

STUCK?  Don’t panic! This happens to lots of writers, sometimes in the middle of your book and sometimes as you struggle to revise, following your critique group’s suggestions or while working through the feedback from your editor. Breathe!

Here are some tips from the Mavens on how to get unstuck:

Dawne Knobbe: Stuck? : Eat cookies, make paper airplanes out of you manuscript. Not helpful? Try picking a fight with your main character.

Cheryl Zach: Stuck? Me, too. Okay, not this minute, but I have been, lots of times. Early on in my career, I’d often get off to a rousing start and then get stuck about a third or even halfway into the story.  It usually meant I didn’t know my characters well enough–pause to do some deep thinking about who your main character is. Look at your supporting characters; maybe one or more need to get in the way–they have their own plot lines to pursue, remember. Perhaps your conflict isn’t big enough to support a novel. Maybe this is the time to introduce a new character, or a new obstacle, or make the conflict harder in some way for the protagonist. Go back and look at what I said about a sagging middle.

If you’re stuck on a new project, ideas are all around you. Make sure you spend time with young people. Read lots of good books, and not just in your chosen genre. See good movies and plays. After viewing The Darkest Hour, I reread William Manchester’s multi volume bio of Winston Churchill–what writing! Go to museums and other cultural events, go outside to parks and the beach and the mountains, whatever is near you. Feed the well. Exercise. It helps the brain function. Meet with other writers and artists. And don’t be too hard on yourself. The Muse will return.

Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton:  5 Ways to get beyond Stuck

Go fill your well! Do something new to you. The experience will get your senses awakened.

Walk and talk. Take your phone and walk and talk (recording) yourself through questions about your story question.

Spend time volunteering with the age group you are writing for. Listen to their jargon. Watch their mannerisms. Be aware of what they are worried about. Observe what they get excited about. Ask them about what concerns them.

Sit and read a starred review book. Analyze what makes it work. Is the story character or plot driven? What is the heart of the story? How does the main character grow and change?

Meet with a critique group. Being around other writers who are producing can be contagious. Also other writers may be able to help you get over the hump in your manuscript.

Judy Enderle: Unstuck tricks to try:
Stay calm. You may feel as if you are sinking in quicksand, but if you were it would be best to keep cool, to ease back and float until you reach solid ground. Same with being stuck in your writing. Sometimes floating for a bit will help you get to solid ground and go forward.

Ask your character what to do next. Write down all the possibilities then choose what makes most sense for your story.

Brainstorm with your critique group. Many heads might help you find a good solution.

Skip the place where you are stuck and start writing again at the place where you know what will happen. You might figure out what to do with that stuck spot or perhaps realize you don’t even need the place where you are stuck to make your story work.

Stephanie Jacob Gordon: Ask your dog; dogs are good listeners. Take a walk (your dog will like this, too. Eat chocolate. Have a cup of tea and biscotti and pretend your main character is there with you. Read the KidsBook Mavens blog for some good ideas. Most important: DON’T GIVE UP!