Friday, January 18, 2008

Untanging Writer's Block

You may wonder why I'm not naming this blog Busting Writer's Block and instead calling it Untangling Writer's Block. The reason is, when I'm having difficulty writing, it's not so much because I've hit a wall and feel blocked. It's usually because my mind has gone in a thousand different directions and I've tangled myself up.

Take this week, I'm working on the third book for Steeple Hill, the reunion story of Cash and Serena Montgomery. I'm having a blast, it's suspenseful, it's romantic and I'm stuck. I'm stuck just like a thread of yarn in a skein that won't release it.

On occasion this happens to me. It get frustrated and try to work through it, only to resolve myself to having to pull away from the computer and plot. I do a lot of plotting in my head in the early stages of a manuscript. I always convince myself that I can keep it nice and tidy there. Unfortunately, I'm always wrong. I hate plotting unless I already know where I'm going and it's just an easy jotting down of notes in order. This time, I have to loose ends that need to be weaved in and old characters to reintroduce and I have to make sure that suspense, the faith element and the romance are giving their due.

This is what I do. I take a blank sheet of paper and fold it in half and then again so that when I open it, I have 4 equal columns. I use this for my 4 act structure. Then I start plugging in what I know about the story. I try to keep it brief because I'm only giving myself a roadmap here. I'm not writing the synopsis. I'm a puzzle writer, so I write everything out of order. (Using pencil helps. Sometimes things get put in the wrong place.) When I'm done, I can quickly see where the holes of my story are and where I have to add or rearrange scenes.

For me, getting my story tangled up is always the result of me not doing my plotting chart. After 16 manuscripts, you'd think I'd learn. In the end, I fall back on my tried and true approach and get back to writing, which is where I'm going now.

Until next time, many blessings to you all,
Lisa Mondello

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