What do I do in my story?

So you’re writing a story, and you’re stuck. You hate it. Or you hate your character. Maybe something personal happened to you, and you lost your “muse”. Whatever happened, you are stuck. You are experiencing what is known in the colloquial as “Writer’s Block”. What do you do?

I don’t know. But I know what I do. I have a list of things that can happen that are appropriate to any genre, any time. I just pick something that sounds good, and go with it.

  1. Dream sequence. Your characters sleep, don’t they? Have them dream. You can do all kinds of funky stuff: prophetic visions, messages from beyond, exploring the subconcious. If you are not sure what the dream could be about: what is the character feeling guilty about? Unsure of? Can you explore that?
  2. Flashback: Your characters were born, probably, before your story begun. And it’s quite possible for something to remind them of a scene they lived through.
  3. Inner monologue. Does your character have debate? Feeling unsure? Needing to reflect? Do it verbally.
  4. Ninja. You think I’m joking? Raymond Chandler reputedly said, “if you’re not sure what to do, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” A ninja is just the modern fascinated-with-superficial-aspects-of-Japanese-culture modern answer to that. It doesn’t need to be a ninja per-se, but you’re stuck for inspiration — so just use a ninja. You can later edit the ninja into something else.
  5. Love interest. Unless it’s a post-apolcalyptic only-two-people-in-whole-world story, you have another character. Introduce it as a love interest for one of your characters. Variations abound: unrequited love (either way), a romantic triangle, etc.
  6. Random new character: they meet someone else who helps them or hurts them.
  7. After you used tips 5/6 enough times, you have an overabundance of characters. Feel free to kill them off.

Do you know what I love about these suggestions? They take zero inspiration. Just choose one, and go with it — see where it takes you. It may not be the great plot you hoped it would be — but then again, perhaps there never was one. You can always go back and change. But you need to start writing. You know something else? There has never been anyone who asked the question about getting stuck, and one of those form-factor answers did not help him. All stories are basically about people, and so these universal things (which are all about people) always help. Never get stuck again!

(BTW: Few of these are original suggestions. I thought of none of them myself, but I’ve picked them up from a dozen sites. Which probably also did not invent them themselves…)

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One Response to What do I do in my story?

  1. prodlife says:

    Those are also good suggestions when you run out of plots in your real life.

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