Blog Challenge · Writing

Day 7 – The Universe Has a Name, And That Name… Is Irony

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.
  • Revise.
  • Submit.

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….

  1. Cry in a corner, punch rainbows and flail.
  2. Be snarky and sarcastic — this is a good time to go write a blog post.
  3. Return to your foundational roots: Plot, scheme and outline.
  4. Roll up your sleeves, grit your teeth, and just write the goddamned story.

7 thoughts on “Day 7 – The Universe Has a Name, And That Name… Is Irony

  1. You’re fun and inspiring and smart about storytelling, story-building. Thank you. I always liked you, right from the beginning when first we were in a class together, and that warm friendly feeling is nice and helpful, too. Gracias.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Muse, eh? High praise, that. And here it is right back at you — thank you for being a muse to and for me right now with your blog and your stories of your writing life. It is good stuff, Shanan. Thanks.😆


  3. Reblogged this on Shanan Winters and commented:

    To kick off this new year, I’m reblogging my top 10 posts of 2015! The 10th most popular post of the year is this… my ode to irony. This one was written in the middle of my 35 day blog challenge. It was also mid-NYCMidnight. I’ve re-read it, and it all still applies. Especially the very last line 🙂


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