Thursday, April 9, 2009

Writer's Block and Obliviousness

Here's the thing. For awhile there, I was going full steam ahead on the new WIP, a young adult sci fi project that I love to use abbreviations on because it makes me feel like a secret agent who knows a secret code. (What's your new project, Beth? Oh, just a little YA SF, after some MG F and NF for SCBWI; how's your WIP?)

Anyway, I was flying for a bit. The chapters just rolled off me, and the story came so easily that I made sure to keep my iTouch with me so I could type notes as the inspiration hit.

And then I got a bit stuck.

I'm not calling it writer's block; I don't believe in writer's block.

But nothing worked, and I was stuck.

See, what I wanted to do was show the world. I thought I'd have two chracters go for a ride through the countryside, one explaining the world to another, but that felt dry, even after I figured out how to use that scene to bring in some character development, too. It just felt so contrived to me to show the world by having the characters drive through it. I knew, deep down, that was the easy way out. I was being lazy.

But still, I did need the one character to be a witness for the reader, and for her to see the world and explain it in her voice. But I was writing pages and pages of flat, dry scenes so I could manuever her out of her room and into the countryside so she could describe it.

I paced the halls.

I tried to skip that scene and write other chapters, but I stalled like a dying car.

I ignored it. Stupid book. Who wants to write it, anyway?

And, quite by accident, as I was getting into my car this morning to go to work, it hit me.

Why don't I just have her look out the blinking window?

I didn't beat my head against the car, but I probably should have. DUH! If I need her to give just a quick description of the world, but don't want to waste all the time setting up how she'll go out into it, she could just freaking look outside. It was so obvious. All those pages and pages built up to have a chapter to get her and the other character driving through the country--gone. All she does now is peek outside, make a few comments to herself about how different this world is to the one she knows, and done.

The simplest answer is usually best...but usually the last one that occurs to me!

So, do you do that? Do you struggle and struggle over a scene, just to suddenly realize there's an incredibly simple solution to it?


Stacy Nyikos said...

I SO understand that feeling! Why is it we try to make things difficult when they can be easy? Or is easy hard and difficult is easy to figure out? It can be so frustrating!

PJ Hoover said...

Sometimes solutions drop in my lap (like your window). And when this happens, I LOVE it! It's like a miracle has occurred or something.

Lots of times I don't go with the first thing to pop into my mind, as many times for me, it's a very cliche idea.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Absolutely! I do this all the time, and I always want to beat my head on the wall. :D

Tabitha said...

Yep, know how that feels. :) I love it when there's a simple solution, and even when the solution is not so simple. Six or so years ago, I got a great idea for a MG novel. I tried writing it, but it just wasn't working and I had no idea why. So I set it aside for awhile, came back to it, set it aside, came back, etc. Nothing was working. So I firmly set it aside, wrote two YA novels, and just now peeked at it. And the lightbulb went off!! The solution isn't easy, but it's doable. So I'm finally making progress with this thing, six years later. For now, anyway. :)

Unknown said...

Stacy: I don't know, but that's my life, too!

PJ: I do love it...but I'm like's often too cliche. I'm a little embarrassed I even thought of the driving through the country idea...

Lady Glam: Glad I'm not alone!

Tabitha: Wow--I love that you were able to find a way to make that story work. Good luck with it.