Today’s prompt deals with writer’s block.
Do I have it? How do I deal with it? Are there any fool-proof cures?
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Last night, I received my Round 2 prompt for the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction Challenge.
I love this contest. Really, I do. It’s kind of a self-torture device, but I always grow from each round as a writer.
My process for this contest is as follows:
- Get prompt at 9:00 Arizona time (because: time zone cheater).
- Bounce ideas off my husband and a couple writer-friends.
- Go to bed.
- Get up.
- Pound out story. Be done by noon.
- Enlist beta readers.
- Enjoy a cup of coffee or ten.
Yeah, not this time.
I got my prompt… “Suspense, A Bakery. A Mask.”
Every thought and idea — every creative inspiration I’ve ever had, or WILL ever have — possibly even the drive to breathe — flew from my brain like a flock of geese fleeing Canada in September.
Suspense. In a bakery.
Bakeries aren’t suspenseful. Bakeries are filled with warm, cinnamon goodness, comfy arm chairs, old books, bad music, and lots and lots of coffee. I guess it could be suspenseful… if there’s a long line for the bathroom.
I guess they call this a challenge for a reason.
Now, what’s truly ironic… not just that I have writer’s block on the day I’m supposed to write about writer’s block…. is that my writing, by nature, is suspenseful.
I once said, even if given the romantic comedy genre, some character would somehow be fearing for his life. It’s what I do. I put my characters through the trials of hell.
Now I’m being told, “Write suspense!”
It’s like holding a gun to a comedian’s head and saying, “BE FUNNY!”
So how then will I solve this problem? Well, I have a deadline. That helps, in an “I might crap myself in the process” kind of way. Come hell or high water, I have to turn something in by 8:59 PM tomorrow evening.
I do have an idea now. And I have the first 200 (of 1000) words down. I have NO idea where it’s going at this point.
So now I’ll sit back and ask some questions…
- What is the crisis of the story?
- Who is the hero, and how is he challenged?
- How can I challenge him EVEN MORE?
- At what point in the story will the reader truly fear for the life of the character? How can I make this part seem as hopeless as possible?
- What foreshadow can I toss in to give an inkling of how the character will pull through the climax?
- What’s the resolution going to be? How will my characters grow from this?
- Where will the villain be at the end? How will the villain grow through the story? We can’t have one-dimensional villains! FLESH OUT THE VILLAIN, DAMMIT!
- Oh, and keep it under 1000 words.
So, I guess my point here is… when faced with writer’s block, follow these handy steps….
- Cry in a corner, punch rainbows and flail.
- Be snarky and sarcastic — this is a good time to go write a blog post.
- Return to your foundational roots: Plot, scheme and outline.
- Roll up your sleeves, grit your teeth, and just write the goddamned story.