While I think creative writing should be a fun process, that doesn’t always mean that the process is easy. We often find ourselves getting stuck on a chapter, trying to figure out how to move things forward, even if we have an outline to guide us. You may find it challenging to start the story, figure out creative ways to present story or character elements, or even struggle to craft a chapter with a major plot point.
These are perfectly normal issues and challenges you may face multiple times as a writer. But know this: All writers face challenges with their stories. From new writers to best-selling authors, each story delivers its own share of roadblocks that must be overcome for the story to work.
Let’s discuss some ways to overcome these challenges and keep your story moving.
Ask Yourself Questions
You’ve hit a wall. Things were going great, and then you came upon a chapter that wasn’t working. It’s an important chapter in the story, one that can’t be cut.
What to do? If you wrote an outline for your story, you know what the chapter’s content is supposed to be. Take some time and write down some questions related to the chapter. Questions like:
• What is the point of this chapter?
• Who’s present in the chapter and why?
• What’s the main conflict in this chapter?
• How does this chapter move the story forward?
• What does the reader learn from this chapter?
• What do the characters learn in this chapter that helps the story?
By getting the answers out in a more clinical than creative context, you can see what the chapter is meant to achieve and give yourself more material to work with once the creativity begins.
Just Write It
Sit down, turn off your inner critic, and write the chapter. Don’t think about it. Just write it out. It doesn’t matter if it’s too long or short, or missing elements. The key here is to get something down that can be reworked and edited later. It does you no good to have the ideas trapped in your mind.
The best way to work through the challenges is to see them in front of you on the page so you can revise and edit later.
Outline the Chapter
Break the chapter down into bullet points. Really work through each piece of the chapter’s puzzle and determine what happens from start to finish. If dialogue pops into your head while you’re doing this, add it to the outline.
Give yourself a clear and detailed roadmap to work from once you write out the chapter. That way, the guesswork is gone, and you can focus on the creative elements.
Take a Break
Walk away from the chapter. Skip over it and keep writing. Sleep on it. Go for a walk. Give your mind a chance to focus itself elsewhere. In doing so, your mind can subconsciously work out the problems the chapter has presented.
Oddly enough, this works very well for me. I’ve hit snags in a chapter before, stopped, and done something else, then suddenly, the solution strikes, and I run to write down what my brain is coming up with. Sometimes the best solution really is doing nothing.
Writing should be a challenge at times. If it’s too easy, it can get boring. Too hard, and you’ll feel like quitting. It’s that middle-ground of creative writing that you want to achieve. A place where most of the time, the story flows, the characters speak through you, and your descriptions transport the reader to a new place and time. But you also want to have moments where you encounter story problems. These elements make you step back and think about the best strategy to overcome creative challenges.
By asking yourself questions, pushing yourself to write the chapter, writing a detailed outline, or taking a break, you can find the solutions you need to complete the chapter and overcome the issues it presents.
Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!