First of all, I'd like to start by saying thank you for all of the kind comments you wrote regarding my last post about losing Kramer. That was a tough post to write and I really appreciate all of you who disregarded my warning about it being sad and read it anyway.
I've had a wicked case of writer's block these last few days. I've experienced it before, and the good news is that the further I get into the writing of this novel, the less I get it and the less severe it is when it does come.
That's not making me feel any better at the moment, however.
My general method of conquering writer's block is to try to push through it. That means that even if every bone in my body wants to flop on the couch and watch Rock of Love, I ignore them and force myself to write. If I don't have a particular scene in mind or I've finished all of my current chapters, I review my chapter outline and see if it sparks anything. Lately, nada.
Get Your Facts Straight — Then Toss Them Aside
Without a doubt, the biggest reason for my writer's block is not having a clear idea of where my story is going. To a large extent, I'm not writing off the top of my head. This is fiction, sure, but many of the events and characters existed in real-life. One thing I've had trouble grasping is that even though this story is based upon historical events, I don't have to adhere to them exactly. It is, in fact, impossible to tell this story based solely on the facts of the case (or at least a book anyone would want to read). I'm not writing nonfiction for a reason–I want to play.
For example, there is a key person in the real-life story who doesn't enter the action until a couple of months into the investigation. If I was writing a nonfiction account of the events, this wouldn't matter, I would record the story as it unfolded. In a novel, especially a mystery, this character should appear much earlier in the story. For a long time, my outline stuck to the true events fairly strictly and I planned on introducing this character later in the book. Today, however, I decided I need to get him into it by the beginning of the second act–at the very latest. There are a couple of logical places I can do this and I will revise some of my current scenes to reflect this decision.
What will this do? Well, it frees up the story in a lot of ways. Because this person was so central to the true life events, he can now become a key character in my novel, and an interesting one at that. I can use him in multiple ways to create conflict throughout the book, but if I wait until later to introduce him, he will have minimal impact.
But what this really means is that tomorrow I have a fresh burst of inspiration to work with and hopefully, it's adios writer's block.