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Sticky Situations; When Your Story Gets Stuck (And What To Do About It)

It happens every once in a while… You get into a scene and you just don’t know where to go next! It’s probably one of the most frustrating things in the world. Usually, blockages like that don’t happen for no reason. In some cases, you just need to take a step back and recharge… But if days have gone by and you still can’t write, something is wrong.

Lucky for you, it’s not too difficult to fix. Once you identify your problem, you can take the necessary steps to fix it.

 

1.) You don’t know your character’s goal

Your character needs a motivation. It drives everything; the tension, the action, the emotion. If your character has no motivation, of course the story is going to be stuck! Reevaluate your scene. What is your character’s goal? What sort of scene will convey this?

2.) You’ve made it too easy to reach the goal

You’ve got a goal… But it’s too simple. There’s no tension! Your readers see how easy it is for the character to reach their goal and suddenly, they don’t care anymore. Don’t let your character have what he wants; make him struggle for it!

3.) You’ve made it too hard to reach the goal

Ok… Now you have a goal, but the situation is so impossible, you can’t think of any way for your character to get out of it! This is a BIG issue. Your story can never move forward if you have no idea how to fix the problem. Try to simplify things a little. Make the goal attainable or alter the situation so that you can come up with an ending (but don’t make it too predictable; you want your readers to be surprised).

4.) You don’t know which scene to write next

This is where plot knowledge comes in handy. Figure out the basic idea of your plot (see a previous blog post I did on plots if you want to know more about this) and determine where you are in the story. When you find out, decide what needs to happen to get you from where you are in the story arc to the next point.

5.) You’re not moving on

Sometimes, you get stuck in scenes because you don’t want to let parts of them go. Maybe you are trying to write a scene; you really want something to happen (you don’t know what yet) and you want it to happen on a certain bridge. You try all sorts of different things… Killing your secondary character on the bridge, wounding your protagonist on the bridge, having someone fall off the bridge… But it just isn’t working. Maybe you need to burn that bridge (literally!) and move on. Some things simply won’t work. You won’t get unstuck until you understand that, let it go, and move on. Sometimes, you just have to think outside the box.

6.) You need more tension!

Raise the stakes! Do something unexpected! Get risky… Kill a character, destroy something, reveal a secret. Maybe someone isn’t who they say they are… Make threats, let someone get hurt. Whatever you can come up with. Make stuff happen, then sit back and watch your characters react! Things will get interesting quick! I promise.

 

I hope you found this helpful and fun! Thank you so much for taking a peek!

I love hearing from you! Don’t hesitate to comment below if there is any particular subject you would like me to address in my next post. What are some things that have helped you when you were stuck in a story? How did these tips help you?

Thanks for the read!

Sincerely,

     Meredith Cole

 

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