After my last post, friend and fellow writer Stuart Etter contacted me about becoming accountability buddies. Now we’re emailing each other every Sunday (or Monday morning) about our writing progress for the week. There’s something about knowing another writer (or editor) is waiting to hear how much writing you got done that really motivates you to turn off the video games and push through that writer’s block.
I’ve been sitting behind a pretty big writer’s block in Shattered Amulet. Chapter six begins with a return to Logan Shadowhand as the point-of-view (POV) character. When last we left him, he had unwisely provoked a fight with his guards and was anticipating the beatdown of his life. My outline for the chapter picks up the story somewhere in the middle of his recovery, but as I made several attempts to start writing, I struggled to find a good way of summarizing the resolution of Logan’s pummeling and how his fellow prisoner nursed him back to health in the time elapsed.
Part of my issue was coming up with a reason why the guards didn’t beat Logan to death. He was nothing special to them; his labor easily replaced. I considered ways his comrade-in-chains might intervene, but none of them felt right. Every logical path in my head led to the same conclusion: Logan should be dead. That wouldn’t make for a very good novel, however.
When I opened the file to do some writing on Thursday, all the abortive starts I had previously made were staring me in the face. Determined to move past this point–and not wanting to tell Stuart I hadn’t made any progress our first week–I followed my usual first steps in trying to overcome blocks. I reread the previous two chapters, all the while keeping the current scene percolating in the back of my mind.
As I neared the end of chapter five, I got an idea for how Logan’s fellow prisoner could intervene on his behalf that wouldn’t compromise my plans for that character. I went back to my outline to fix in my head the main plot points of the chapter. Then I rewrote the chapter outline with the new beginning, fleshing out points as I went. When I was done, I had a chapter that accomplished what I wanted and made sense within the context of the rest of the novel.
Now I just had to write it. I kept the paragraphs I had written previously so I could mine them as needed. Then I started writing, but I quickly ran into the same issue I had before with summary. I wanted the reader right there in the action, but using Logan’s point of view didn’t work. It didn’t take me long to see that I need a different POV character. And with the new outline of the chapter, Logan’s prisonmate was the obvious choice. The decision made, I was able to produce about 200 words in the couple hours I had left to write that morning. Writer’s block removed, and all it took was a different point of view.