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Author: Subject: [07/15/12] Pep Talk #2: What to do when the ideas run dry?
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[*] posted on 7-15-2012 at 10:55 AM
[07/15/12] Pep Talk #2: What to do when the ideas run dry?

Hi all. I'm going to help you with tips and tricks of what to write when ideas run dry. I know how frustrating the dreaded writers block can be. That feeling of wanting to write but staring at the computer screen, or the pad of paper, and not knowing at all what to write.

I'm going to assume that you have an idea in your head for the story you want to tell. You may even have the whole novel planned out and you just need to write it. If this is you, feel free to skip to tip number 3.

Tip 1: Beat Sheet
This is actually a tip I picked up in screenwriting, but it works so well in novels too. Rather than having an outline, if you are someone who likes to be surprised by your writing, have a beat sheet. This is split into the beginning of the book, which is about a quarter of the page, the middle of the book (half a page) and the end of the book, the last quarter. Each beat should only be a line long and all the sheets have to stay on one page. Basically, you list the major events that have to happen in your story, just as note form. Then, when you don't know what to write next, just jump to a later beat. No one said you had to write in order.

Tip 2: Characters
So this is something that builds your word count and helps you get to know your character. Again, you might know your character really well, but if you don't, or if you just want to put your character through something different, put them in a situation that you hadn't considered in your story. Have them be mugged on the street, or have a parent, or loved one be rushed to hospital. Have them receive a suspicious package, or be accused of a crime they didn't commit. You might learn something new about them.

Tip 3: Describe the Location
So you need to write but you just can't think of what to write? Describe a location from your story. Is there a building that captures you? Or does your character like walking through the woods? Is your story set in a spooky house, or in a futurist science lab? Even a seemingly normal location, a kitchen or an office, can tell us about the character. Is it tidy or messy? Is the furniture old and falling apart or new and modern? You might never use what you've written in your story, but knowing where your story is set will help you visualise it better. And sometimes a subconscious plot line can come crawling out. I never used to think about location, and it was drummed into me at University. Now it's my go to point when I am stuck on what to say.

Tip 4: Write the scene that is going on in your head
Sometimes you may have a strong idea in your head for how the story will end, or you just can't wait to write that intense love scene. Go ahead. You don't have to write in order. I have a file on my computer for my story, and each section I write is on a different word document. I number them so they will be listed in order, guessing at higher numbers for later scenes. If you have planned well enough that you know what will happen in each chapter, this will be easier to number. Basically just write what is on your mind. You will find that you will write a lot more if you are really into what you are writing.

That's it for this time. Just one more thing: It's known as Purple Prose. While it adds to your word count in the short term, trying to think of extra words to add in that are not natural can hamper your flow, so can be more damaging in the long run. So use it sparingly.



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