How I get Myself Unstuck from a Scene…

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How I get Myself Unstuck from a Scene

Traci Kenworth

 

I’ve come up against walls more than a few times when it comes to scenes. There’s a recent one when I needed a character to have certain powers—I just couldn’t figure out what those would be, so I procrastinated about it for days until the answer worked itself out. This is not to say I avoided the scene all together for those days. I worked on this and that of it, chipping away at what I had, until finally a gem formed.

How did I figure it out? Well, I researched different powers. Well, not in the way I could say, “Hey, I’ll give her Supergirl’s powers.” No, I thought about the different elements, what related to her character, where I planned to go from here with her. And slowly, the answers came. And better than expected. Cryogencis. Lava. Avalanches. All these and more were investigated in the hope something would spark.

Another time, I had to introduce a character who has visions of certain events in my book. He was cursed with this by another character. I struggled with whether to write what he witnessed as first person or third. It didn’t quite work out with first as the story is told in first person to begin with and became too confusing for my cps, so I switched it to third and now it is sailing along. The reason behind this being, he has to “see” events through another character’s eyes. He can’t speak for them, he can only observe them.

So you see, there is a way to work through your difficulties. It just takes a new approach. Like I did with my latest book I’m editing. I totally changed the storyline for the female lead in the revisions from passive/sidelines to proactive, kickbutt heroine and it worked. She is now one of the most interesting characters I’ve written. All because I ran into a wall. Sometimes those blockages are good in terms of the story. They force you to work harder, to challenge yourself more.

Any tips you know on how to scale those walls? Doesn’t your story prove stronger/better for it? I think it’s really the Muse telling us to hold up, let’s look at thing from all angles, and then surprising us with its brilliance. So what has your Muse blocked for you lately?

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14 thoughts on “How I get Myself Unstuck from a Scene…

  1. This is a really interesting post Traci and it got me thinking a lot. My story’s structured so there’s a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter and quite often getting my characters out of the situations I’ve put them in is like playing a 3D game of chess in my head. I ask myself questions all the time, imagine everything bad that might happen, every difficulty that might arise and how they might get round each or a combination of several until I’ve got myself a path through the chapter to the next predicament they find themselves in. Then of course there’s everything else that has to be factored in, such as character development, themes, overall story arc etc. It’s quite a long process, but seems to be the only way I can write this one.

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    1. Our Muse is funny in the way it wants to work. What does it for one writer, won’t for another, but the walls we face seem to be the same. I think it is our Muse’s way to wake us up to possibilities we hadn’t thought of before. Good luck with your story, Pen, I haven’t read it yet but if it’s anything like Called, I’ll love it. You always do the best, most complex stories ever!!

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  2. It’s so funny you mention this! Yesterday, I was writing through a chapter and the entire time I was thinking…this does NOT feel right. A scene where my main character was going through a battery of tests to prove her powers. Well, writing those tests didn’t feel right to me at all.

    Then, I realized that I shouldn’t be writing the tests all in one chapter, these are challenges she should be facing the entire time. Not to mention that if it’s boring to me, it will be boring to the reader. So, I completely changed how it was formatted and decided during the second draft I will write in the tests more sporadically. And then I got an even BIGGER idea to help the book entirely.

    So sometimes like you said, these blocks come in and really it makes our novel that much better once we over come those.

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  3. I did the ‘seeing through someone else’s eyes’ thing in my wip. But in that case it’s like the mc is going through the motions. It’s only later that she finds out whose eyes she’s seeing from. It’s written it in first person like the book because the mc doesn’t realize what’s happened. She thinks it’s happening to her in a dream or something.

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    1. “Seeing through someone else’s eyes” can indeed be tricky. However, I think it can add magic to a piece if you get it just right. How exciting that your mc learned she wasn’t responsible for her actions after all, someone else was. Was it a murder mystery maybe? That would be cool.

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  4. She blocked me out while I attempted to convert my sci-fi short story to a novel during NaNo. It now on rewrite from scratch, put aside for other works. She didn’t agree with my world building, not yet.
    My current wip fantasy involves extra mental powers for a special race of wizards, I am stuck wondering, which ones to give to the main characters.
    I finally answered the tag question , in case you want a peek….4 tags around 44 questions. Phew…

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  5. Traci, hi. I’m stopping by from the Campaign to tag you, but I love your blog! I wanted to answer the question of did I ever get stuck in a scene, because that happened to me when I wrote my second novel. I got so stuck I had to go through and outline the entire chapter. Only when I had outlined the whole thing and figured out everyone’s actions was I able to write it the way I wanted it to go. On my first novel I got so stuck I had to take a workshop to figure out where the book was going. I’m so glad you were able to work it out. That chapter kept me awake for weeks trying to figure it out before I realized I needed to outline it.:)

    You can find your tag questions on my blog:
    http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com

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  6. I’m sure you’ll undo the block soon, Rek. Muses just want us to dig a little deeper, challenge ourselves more and then “boom” the magic happens. Try researching things that pop to mind, no matter how far off what you’re doing they are, they could spark the answers to your questions. Good luck and I’m popping over to view your answers.

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  7. Yeah. I’ve had these too. They really suck! I do a couple of things– I take a walk outside, get some air, and just think on it a little. Sometimes the answer comes to me. If that doesn’t work, I’ll typically just let it be and go write something else for awhile (sometimes for months!) then come back to it and the answer is waiting. Sometimes, I’ll ask a person I trust what they think the answer is. Regardless, I try not to force it, no matter what. If its forced, the reader will pick up on it.

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