When You’re Stuck On A Scene

As writers we all experience writer’s block. But nothing is more frustrating than when we are in the middle of an important scene and then, BOOM! The writer’s block strikes. And suddenly we find ourselves gently banging our heads against the desk, wondering when it will back. Getting stuck on a scene is not fun. I’ve come up with a couple ways of breaking through the writer’s block barrier:

Tip 1

Try writing the scene from the perspective of another character. Sometimes getting into the head of another character can give you a fresh perspective on your scene. 

Tip 2

Make a music playlist for the scene. Nothing helps get creativity flowing quite like music. If you use music to set the scene it might help you get through the writer’s block. I usually like to make a writing playlist ahead of time, specifically to try and get ahead of any potential writer’s block.

Tip 3

If you are artfully inclined, try sketching out the scene. Alternatively, if you’re like me and your artistic expression doesn’t range beyond stick figures then you can try making a mood board on Pinterest. Sometimes seeing a visual representation of our scene helps to get the creative juices flowing again. Alternatively, doing something creative can get us back into the writing frame of mind. 

Tip 4

Circle back to it and instead write the next scene. Just because you’re stuck on one scene in particular, that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep moving forward. Plus, this might help to get the flow going again.

Tip 5

Try writing in a different style or POV. 

Tip 6

Write the dialogue only. I really find this one particularly helpful. Sometimes we get stuck on a scene because we’re trying to set the scene with descriptions etc. But if we get the dialogue and character interactions down, we can then circle back and layer on the other elements afterwards.

Tip 7

If all else fails, get up and go for a walk, come back, make a hot cup of something, and then try again. This is my go-to solution when nothing else is working. 

What writer’s block solutions do you like to try when you’re stuck on a scene?

Killing Characters

This seems to always be a divisive subject amongst writers. Some writers wouldn’t dream of killing off one of their characters, while other writers are more than happy to recreate their own versions of the infamous Red Wedding from Game of Thrones within their own works. Within the realm of fiction, character deaths can extend beyond just those of the villains. Side characters and even some main characters can be subject to meeting an untimely death. These are the characters that readers will mourn, especially if they happen to be a fan favorite. As writers, we know that not every character’s story can end in happily ever after. But killing characters can be a delicate art. You don’t want the death to be pointless, you want it to mean something. Below are somethings to keep in mind when you’re contemplating a potential character death. 

Positive Reasons to Kill a Character:

1) Kick off the inciting action or to reveal a hidden secret. Sometimes our main character needs to experience the death of another character in order to get them to begin the proverbial hero’s quest. But at the same time, you don’t want the death to come across as cheap writing or cliched. You want this to be meaningful to the plot. In order for the death to be meaningful to the story’s plot, ask yourself if this inciting action can be kicked off any other way? Or can this hidden secret that is integral to the plot, can that be discovered any other way? If not, then you can proceed with the character’s death.

2) To motivate other characters. Again, death can be a great motivator to both heroes and villains. But you don’t want it to be the sole purpose of their motivation, meaning don’t kill a character just to get your hero or villain started on the path of their character arc and development.

3) To highlight a universal truth within your story’s universe. Sometimes some character deaths have to be sacrificial for the greater good of the story. If death is the only way to highlight a universal truth in your story, then do it. Or if you’re writing a series and you get to a point where there is no other way to illustrate a continuing theme then use a character death. 

4) It’s the only logical way of ending a character arc. There are plenty of ways for your character to come full circle and grow. Death doesn’t always have to be the answer. However, there are times when it is the only answer. As the writer of the story, you will know if this is the only way of wrapping up a character’s arc. 

Negative Reasons to Kill a Character:

1) Solely for the purpose of shocking your audience. No, no, no. You will only make your fan base angry. Don’t alienate your fan base.

2) To start some drama. If you’re killing a character just to spice things up within your story, then you really need to re-evaluate your plot. There are definitely tons of other ways to shake things up without having to kill a character. My personal rule is if you feel your story needs something shocking like a death to save it, then you really need to start from scratch again. 

3) Just for the character development of someone else.Yes, sometimes either a hero’s backstory or even a villain’s backstory will include the death of someone close to them in order to get them started on their respective paths. However, killing a character just for the purpose of further developing another character is not necessary. You can achieve the same effect with a less tragic accident. For example, if your story is about two brothers who haven’t spoken in 10 years, you don’t need to reconcile them by having them lose their mom in a firey car crash. Simply having her hospitalized with a broken leg would be enough to get them back in town and have to face one another and eventually reconcile. You still achieve the character development but without the character death. 

4) You’re unsure how to further the character’s storyline. This more applies to minor characters who sometimes serve their purpose in a story, but then we, as writers, don’t know what to do with them. While the topic of what to do with minor characters after they’ve served their purpose is always up for debate, killing them off isn’t advised. It serves no purpose and if they happen to be a well-received minor character, this can end up angering the fandom. 

5) You don’t like them. We’ve all had characters that we don’t like in our stories. And I’m not necessarily talking about villains. Sometimes as writers we create minor characters or even major characters that, as we get into the writing process, come to find we don’t actually like writing them. Either they’re too boring, we’ve gotten sick of writing them, or we simply can’t connect with them. The easiest solution to this is to remove them all together from the story. Make it such that they’ve never existed within our story’s universe. Sometimes I have found that these characters I don’t like are simply in the wrong story and once I find where they fit, they work much better. I’ve also found that if a character is easily removable from the story, then they were irrelevant to it anyways. Of course, problematic characters aren’t always easily removable like this. Sometimes a character needs to be in a story but we, the writers, just can’t stand their story anymore. Don’t kill them off, find another less dramatic way of writing them out.

Magickal Tools to Help You Write

Through the centuries, authors used a quill pen and a notebook or a typewriter to write down their inspired musings. Today, we have laptops and tablets. Laptops are very popular, but I hope to encourage you all to try writing using a notebook and pen. These methods here might seem antiquated, but they worked for Mary Shelley, Emily Dickinson, and other writers of the past. Writing by hand slows you down, makes you reflect more on what you write. I want to share ways to make your writing sessions fun.

I sometimes use a quill pen and write in a journal before storing it on the laptop. Quill pens convey a slower, romantic time. If you wish to use a typewriter, go ahead. I think the quality of writing was better when we used typewriters than laptops because it took more effort. Now we print something off and think it is complete. Nope. I still edit with a red pen on paper. I find reading the works of other writers helps me to write better. I have many books to study and learn from. I don’t just read for enjoyment.

Burn a candle as you write. Burn the candle safely. Essential oils release tension and get you in a writerly state of mind. The oils can be lavender for relaxation, bergamot for spice, and rosemary oil for memory.

Bat wing clothespins are a cute way to organize your musings. Cool mugs organize your pens, pencils, CDs, and markers. Use color-coded file folders to store your stories or poems. If you do print out to review and edit on paper, your writing will be stronger. When you read your writing on paper, especially that’s been put aside for a few days, you edit with more clarity.

If you want a magickal-looking notebook, here is a good idea. Peruse through a tarot deck. Find an image you like. Scan it in, print it out in color, and then glue it to your notebook cover. Scribble and draw spiders, pentacles, bats, or moon crescents on the plain pages. Before you know it, it will be as magickal as a tome from a witch shop and half the price.

Meditate every time you sit down to write. Glowing scented candles, mystical tarot cards, and your hard-earned words add magic to your life. Your writing space can be a sacred space. It is your space and should be personal and welcoming to you.

Make sure your desk and computer are ergonomic and that you are seated comfortably. Take breaks and go for a walk to relax your body. Take care of your health. Drink water and get plenty of exercise. Be sure to eat healthy. I once spent a few days in bed in serious pain due to sitting too long at a computer. It is important to practice self-care. There’s nothing cool about being unable to move due to severely seized-up muscle pain. Don’t let this happen to you.

It is important to protect your health from computers. The blue lights can be harmful to your health. Staring at your iPod five secs before bedtime can seriously affect your health. But we could use cool cover cloths on laptops for nighttime. My laptop is decorated with cool moon phase stickers.

I use tarot cards to spark creativity. I own a ghost tarot deck and it was perfect for when I wrote my novel. The images were spooky and eerily beautiful. There is a good book to help you use tarot cards to help you write. It’s titled Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner. The book is packed with excellent methods on how to use tarot while writing.

I hope these ideas help you in your own creative projects.