Posts Tagged With: Writers Block

How to Never Get Writer’s Block. Ever.

writers block

Writer’s block(s). Get it? … Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Let me tell you the secret to getting rid of writer’s block forever.

I’ll admit, I’ve certainly had days where I feel like I don’t know what to write, or I worry that everything I write is terrible.

Some people call that writer’s block. I call it “Monday.” :-)

But seriously, what most people call “writer’s block” is an insidious combination of those two problems.

Problem #1: Not knowing what to write. Continue reading

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Is Your Story Stuck? 5 Questions You Need to Ask

Fiction University Janice HardyWriting a book but feeling stuck?

Do you have the sneaking suspicion that your story went off the rails somewhere?

Don’t worry. You can fix practically any story problem just by asking yourself five simple questions.

Read the full post on Fiction University >

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The Surprising Secret to Snappy Scenes

Got a scene in your novel where a group of characters argue and discuss, but no matter how important the subject is, somehow the tension falls flat?

You can fix this scene, and I’ll tell you the trick right up front: get rid of some of your characters. Why?  Continue reading

Categories: For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel, writing a book, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Saturday: Instant Plot – Plan Out Your Novel the Easy Way

Hate outlining? You’re not alone. Tomorrow (9/8/12), I’ll be teaching Instant Plot at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference. Here’s what’s in store:  Continue reading

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How to Keep Readers Turning Pages: 3 Things You Must Do

Q: I’ve got a basic plot planned out for my novel, but I’m worried about being repetitive, because the story is about doing the same thing several times (the main character has a list of people he needs to “off”). Do you know of any way to pull off a plot like that without boring the reader or becoming predictable?  Continue reading

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The Best Writing Tool You’re Not Using

Writing a novel on a typewriter? Hard.
Finishing your novel by any means possible? Smart!

Are you stuck in the middle of your novel? Do you keep going back to “fix” things in your story? Believe it or not, you might need a typewriter.  Continue reading

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Bronte Sisters Power Dolls

Writing a book is serious work. Literary icons with kung-fu action grip… not so serious. Enjoy!

P.S. You can also watch the Bronte Sisters Power Dolls here.

Categories: For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel, writing a book, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Instant Plot: How to Plan Out Your Novel the Easy Way

Do you love free stuff? Do you love to write? Me too! That’s why I’m teaching an absolutely free writing class this Saturday. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one.  Continue reading

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Beat Writer’s Block in 6 Simple Steps

Q:  I’m about five chapters into writing my first novel and I’ve reached a total impasse.  I flat-out don’t know where to go from here.  Everything started out so well, I had lots of story ideas and the pages were coming fast.  But now I’m stuck, and I don’t know what to do.  Should I scrap my novel and start over?  How do I beat writer’s block?

A:  Don’t worry.  Here’s a solution that’s guaranteed to shake loose your creativity.  And you can do it in just six easy steps.  Ready?

First, take a deep breath.  Set aside what you’re working on and think about the basics of your story for a moment.  Go back in your mind to the original inspiration you had for your novel.  Forget about the chapter you just wrote; focus instead on the bigger concepts.  Remember the very first thing that inspired you.

Got it?  Good.  Now, in your notebook, answer these six questions:

1)  WHO is my story really about? 
Sometimes we get ourselves turned around and focus on the wrong person.  Hint: the main character is the person with the most to lose, the person who spends the most time on stage, or the person who gets hurt the worst.

2)  What does that character WANT?  
It needs to be something specific that we can visualize her achieving.  Something we could see in a photo.  Is she trying to fix a problem?  Achieve something that’s never been done before?  Write down exactly what it is.

3)  WHY does the character want it?  
The more primal and universal the reason, the better.  Especially if the character thinks that achieving this goal will make her a better person or mend a broken relationship.

4)  What will the character DO to achieve it?  
What direct action might she take in the future?  Brainstorm at least ten actions.  Later, you can pick out your favorites.

5)  What stands in the WAY of the character achieving that goal?  
How would these obstacles force the character to change plans midstream?  Brainstorm at least ten obstacles: opposing characters, inner conflicts or physical roadblocks in the setting.

6)  How should things get RESOLVED in the end?  
Does the character achieve the goal?  Or fail?  Or realize that she was chasing the wrong goal all along?

Answering these questions will give you a bare-bones plan for writing your novel.  If that doesn’t get you totally unblocked, spend time brainstorming more obstacles for the hero to overcome.  Giving your character a problem to solve will get your story rolling again instantly.

So, in a nutshell, your novel is about a CHARACTER who has a GOAL or PROBLEM for a vital REASON.  He or she DOES SOMETHING about it, but RUNS INTO TROUBLE.  Finally, THINGS GET RESOLVED

That’s it.  Everything else is just fancying up that one basic paragraph.  See, isn’t that simple?  Here’s a quick cheat sheet for you:

My main character is __________.  He/She needs to __________, because __________.  So the character does __________.  But __________ stands in the way.  At the end, __________.

Just fill in the blanks and get back to writing your novel. It’s that simple!

Got a writing question? Just ask!

Categories: how to write a book, how to write a novel, writing, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Behind the Bestseller: Robert Buettner (Part 3)

Meet bestselling author Robert Buettner, a man who’s not afraid to do his research firsthand — even when it involves a real-life main battle tank!  In this segment on You Can Write A Novel, Buettner talks about how ebooks have changed the publishing business, how it feels to read your own reviews and the secret to beating writer’s block.

Plus, as you can see, no book signing is complete without a visit from a ninja ape-man.  Naturally.

Laurence MacNaughton:  By my count, Overkill is your sixth novel. How is your career (and/or the publishing business) different now than when you started? Does the writing get any easier, or do you face a new set of challenges now?

Robert Buettner:  The book biz, like the world in which it operates, has been changing at an ever-accelerating rate. Based on my royalty statements, in the last year “mobile device” proliferation has finally caused e-book unit sales to take off like a firewalled F-16.

Book promotion now appears to be a matter of accumulating Facebook friends, but I remain a social media Luddite. A writing day bares my creative cupboard. I lack the wit surplus to fire off a dozen clever tweets to my followers. I still visit brick-and-mortar stores and autograph their stock. Maybe that’s the authorial equivalent of the last tyrannosaur chasing the last triceratops.

Mechanically, writing’s easier. My word processor manages a lot more proofing and backtracking even compared to what it could even a few years ago, when I started. I research via Google rather than organizing a library safari. I can’t imagine how the great novels were composed longhand, or on a typewriter. I still proof a physical print copy of my manuscripts before I turn them in, but I turn them in electronically now, which is faster, cheaper, and environmentally friendlier.

Do you ever read your own reviews?

RB:  Every word. It’s probably easier for me than for some authors because my reviews have, so far, fingers crossed, been overwhelmingly positive.

The decline of newspaper and similar print review sources has removed a useful filter from opinion, and that’s a little scary. Today any anonymous source who hasn’t even read the book can say absolutely anything about the book, and that “review” may pop up on Google ahead of more thoughtful commentaries. But so far I’ve rarely been victimized that way.

LM: If you had to pick just one personal quality that separates the would-be writers from the published professionals, what would it be?

RB:  Persistence in the face of rejection. If I could pick a second, it would be willingness to reinvent and relearn one’s craft, sometimes abbreviated “humility.”

LM:  Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? And if so, how do you beat it?

RB:  Barbara Hambly and I were guesting at an SF Con a couple of years ago. Barbara answered that question as well as I’ve heard it answered. Barbara said real “writer’s block” is an exceedingly rare clinical phenomenon.

What most writers call “block” is just a subconscious warning we give ourselves that, “hey, this chapter, this paragraph, this plot line isn’t working.” So we just sit there, dithering.

The fix is simple. Walk back the dog through your work until you encounter the last point where you’re confident that the story was working. Begin again from there. With luck, that point is just a page back. Maybe you lose a whole chapter. Maybe you have to go back to page one. But at least you’re unstuck.

The secret to efficient “block” beating is, I suppose, recognizing it before you’ve sleepwalked ahead through too many worthless pages. It works for me.

LM: Is there any truth to the rumor of an Orphanage movie? 

RB:  Well, the most interesting recent project I’ve been connected with lately is the film adaptation of Orphanage by Olatunde Osunsanmi, the rising director and screenwriter (The Fourth Kind, forthcoming Dark Moon) for Davis Entertainment (Predator, I Robot, Eragon). Thousands of books are optioned for film, but never get to a “treatment,” much less to the director-plus-adapted-screenplay stage where Orphange is already. However, Hollywood is notably longer on dreams than on reality, so Orphanage the Movie remains light years away. Therefore, I hadn’t mentioned it much. But the news popped out in the Hollywood press last October.

It’s totally Tunde’s screenplay. My input has been minimal, and that’s a gross overstatement. But I was flattered that he chose to lift more of the writing direct from the book than is usual in an adapted screenplay.

LM: We’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for that!  What else are you working on? 

RB:  Amazon’s is releasing the new series as audio books. Overkill’s already available. I’m looking forward to working again with the reader who Audible chooses for Undercurrents. MacLeod Andrews, the young (everybody’s young to me) actor who read Overkill was terrific.

I’m finishing an original short story for the forthcoming John Joseph Adams anthology “Armored.” That story will be loosely set within the Orphanage-Overkill universe.

At the moment, I’m judging the short story finalists in the National Space Society’s Jim Baen Memorial Writing contest. I’m filling in for the venerable David Weber, and following in the footsteps of such notable authors as Mike Resnick and Eric Flint, so that’s pretty cool.

Beyond that, of course, Undercurrents, the sequel to Overkill, is set for release July 5, 2011, and there will be a third book in that series.

Robert Buettner’s ‘blog

Robert Buettner’s website

Baen’s webscription page for Overkill

Amazon’s Overkill page

Amazon’s Undercurrents page

Amazon’s Orphanage page

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