I wrote 3 chapters. I can't think of something to write to connect what I have already written to ideas I have for later on.
That is interesting question. I write when I get urge to write, and I see certain scenes in my head. I don't keep them in any particular order. And I try not to worry about how one scene will connect to another, I will just let it happen (much like meditation). Best of luck on this endeavor!– RhondaDec 16, 2015 at 15:13
I've been sitting on 2 chapters and a major, but vaguely defined story arc for about 6 years. I'm only just starting to pick it up again so I feel your pain! I find watching relatable movies and reading novels gives me motivation and simple ideas on which to feed off without copying directly, however.– Nick BedfordDec 29, 2015 at 22:10
Lauren Ipsum has some great ideas to start with, and sometimes it just takes thinking more conceptually about the story to kick through.
For instance, do you know conceptually what you want to happen next? That is, let's say your protagonist is in a bank but the next thing you have an idea for is him getting on a plane. Conceptually, you know you need a series of bridging scenes getting the protagonist from the bank to the airport, and along the way there's a zombie outbreak which makes the trip more difficult, or there's a fire raging in the only tunnel from the bank's part of town to the airport feeder bypass, or a there's a bomb on the plane and he has to get there before it goes off somehow...
...you get the idea.
But if you don't know conceptually what you want to happen next, but you do have ideas for later in the book, then you can simply write the ideas that come later.
Try not to get trapped in the time line of your story. That is, don't worry about getting the story onto the page in the order the reader will experience it; you're the omnipotent writer of the story, and you are not bound by its time line. So, write what comes next - whether that's what the reader will experience next when they read the story is irrelevant.
What happens is, writing the next thing can kick things loose in your brain. When you have the next idea down, it might become clear what has to happen to get the story from where you got stuck to the next thing you wrote. But even if it doesn't, you just keep going. You can go back at any time to fill the gaps, to add foreshadowing, to add plants and clues and subtext.
Think movies - TONS of movies are filmed out of sequence with how we see them in their final form. Writing can be the same. Just write what comes to you next. That's the next thing.
Don't let yourself get bogged down by the linear progress of the story. You're not bound by that as the writer; write what you see next, what the next thing is, irrespective of the place in the story's time line. It doesn't have to be what the reader sees next, only what you do.
I know, that was a long-winded raving explanation and I'm sorry, but hopefully that will give you some boost.
Now, to piggyback on Lauren Ispum's idea, I recommend Algis Budrys's 7-point plot system. You need, in the beginning section of the story:
- A Character
- In a context (setting)
- With a problem
If you have those three things, then the next step in the story is for the character (and any allies) make a logical but erroneous attempt to solve the problem, which nets failure. That failure is both unexpected and educational - they learn more about the problem. This leads to another attempt to solve the problem which nets failure, costs more, but also exposes more of the true problem. One more attempt/fail, and that leads to the final push, the give-it-all effort of the protagonist(s) which will either net victory, finally, or final failure up to and including death.
So with that in mind, you can place the ideas you have on the spine Lauren Ipsum spoke of, and discover what's missing. It's the same method LI described, but with a different plotting device.
Hope that helps some!
There are two kinds of writers: plotters and discovery writers.
Discovery writers sit down and just type, literally "discovering" what happens as they go, and then must go back and impose a structure on the text at the end.
Plotters outline and come up with the entire structure beforehand, and write along the skeleton of that outline.
If you are stuck for ideas, it may mean that discovery writing doesn't work for you. You may need to find a more traditional structure for your story and assemble an outline first. I have found The Snowflake Method to be useful, and The Hero's Journey, but there are other structures and other tools.
You're stuck because you can't get from A to B. Go back to the beginning, pick a skeleton, and put A and B on it. That should help you fill in the gaps.
1I'm trying to take a plotter's approach to discovery writing by at least writing down vague ideas about major plot points and scenes that may happen. It seems like it's helping me become more familiar with the story I'm trying to "discover". Dec 29, 2015 at 22:17
Take your criticism down A LOT of notches.
Instead of struggling on that One Great Idea you can't get, and dismissing everything you come by as crap, pick a painfully generic plot, add one simple, standard trick, and just start writing.
Pick any of fairy tales, even the most generic one, knight saves a princess from a dragon. Add one simple, trivial modification: "In Space". Or "On the Internet". Or "From the Dragon's perspective". Or "The Princess doesn't like it." Or "The Dragon is the Princess." Whatever to move away from the -totally bland- into -trite-.
Then start writing. And if ideas come, apply them. Change stuff. Let the plot wander wherever it wills. If they don't, just keep writing that generic stuff. Usually, they will come, sooner or later.
My recent story went like this. Pick: Spielberg's 'E.T.'. Twist: The alien has a quad-digit IQ (or more), and mastery of mathematics. The beginning is quite generic. Then the alien decides to obtain funds to build the phone to call home. How to build massive funds quickly? Through playing on the stock market. What are some risks associated with it? Getting caught up in the thrill of the gamble.
"That escalated quickly" would be an understatement.
These are good answers for the writing portion of overcoming writers' block. Although what really gets me going is when I step away from my story. I go outside, visit my art classroom, read my other stories, play Smash Bros... Pretty much anything that lets me decompress. It's at these times that I can let myself think more easily. When you relax or go to a place where you're used to thinking, you can vent out the crap that gets in the way, imagine things more freely and overall rejuvenate yourself for the next time you sit down. Focusing on your story and writing non-stop for extended periods of time can cloud your thought process and make you bored. Give yourself some slack. It'll work wonders.
Big +1 for this; I do a lot of "writing" on the treadmill or in the shower. Dec 30, 2015 at 3:19
If you've got a few ideas for stories "on the backburner", try working on a different one for a bit. Once the words start flowing again, you'll probably find you can go back to the first story and get back at it.
In her sympathetic (and often hilarious) book for new writers, Bird by Bird, author Anne Lamott has a chapter on writer's block. She talks about developing the discipline of a daily schedule and pushing through the block to finish a section or chapter.