Writer’s Block – Again….

Struggling with writer’s block again, so have nothing to blog about at present, other than to reblog an article I posted five years ago when facing difficulties with my first novel, now published…

Writer’s Block

January 18, 2009 by lawrenceez | Edit

Most writers reach that dreadful moment when they have nothing left to say. The computer screen or sheet of paper remains blank. Endless cups of coffee make no difference. Hopefully, the moment doesn’t last for long – a day, maybe two at the most – but occasionally, writer’s block doesn’t shift.

Writer’s block has several causes:

Physical. For instance, the writer’s tired, under stress or drained from the emotional nature of the story
Lack of confidence in the project
Structural problems in the writing

The first is the easiest to solve. Tired? Stressed? Worn out from the writing? Take a break for a day or two. Do something different. On those few occasions when I can’t face writing, I watch television (which I hardly ever do), play computer games or go out.

The second cause is slightly trickier to deal with. A lack of confidence prevents people from doing things, including getting writing done. You could spend the time researching your project or getting feedback from other writers. You could hand your work to a friend whose judgement you trust or study similar pieces of writing to gain a feel for what’s out there. If you’re writing fiction, distance yourself from the main character. Let the character develop in her own distinct ways.

Structural problems in the writing tend to occur when one or more of the basic arguments are faulty. The argument might lack credibility, for example. Or arguments might clash with each other, especially if you’ve introduced new material in a rewrite. I find scene of crime sections and mystery plots the hardest to pull off, often because I fail to take into account the motives of each person involved. Usually, I have to go back over the relevant points, simplifying some and developing others. In my latest draft of a psychological thriller, for instance, I got writer’s draft at the epilogue. Not a good place to get stuck.

When tackling structural problems, go through the manuscript with a pen. I prefer to work with groups of fifty pages, jotting down essential story questions as I read. If a section still doesn’t work after extensive revision, consider ditching it for, but keep a copy in case you wish to reintroduce it again.

Finally, resist the urge to go back to the beginning and rework the story word for word. Adding to what’s already there sometimes lessens the impact of the good.

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Leaping Ahead In The New Novel, Another Psychological Thriller…

Exactly a week ago I started a new draft of a new novel , a psychological thriller, in which a group of students move into a house where a tragedy occurred ten years earlier. In the story, the past comes to have an effect on the present, leading to mounting danger and confusion for central character Gavin and his friends. 

In the initial planning, I tried a demo free novel writing software program, but I found, as I have many times before, that these programs don’t get rid of writer’s block or help with plot progression (the question of what comes next), as the programs can’t actually write the novel.   The programs are fine for planning the story and organising scenes/chapters, but only the author can write the story.  Once I decided exactly what I wanted to convey, the story came naturally to me.

A sample:

That night, I woke with a jolt, my heart hammering in my chest. I’d been dreaming about Aidan again and something scary had happened on the landing, but I couldn’t remember what. Silence pressed in, tangible and sticky and laden with anticipation. I heard creaking on the stairs, then nothing.

            I must have fallen asleep again, for suddenly I was awake once more, my heart pounding like before. I sat up on the mattress. Dawn, Philippa and Veronica were knocking on my bedroom door, calling my name, their voices full of urgency.

Meanwhile my debut novel, Secrets by Lawrence Estrey, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

A New Novel?

“Extremely scary,”…”very exciting,”…”spooky.” 

Secrets –  Lawrence Estrey

__________________________

My first novel Secrets appears to have sold in three countries and the local library has agreed to stock it, so I’m now working on a new novel and hoping it will go to plan.  Again, I have chosen to write a psychological thriller.  This time, I want to concentrate more on the psychology and suspense and less on the crime elements. 

Here are some of the things I learned during the writing process for Secrets:

  • Avoid changing viewpoint unless absolutely crucial to the story,
  • Delay surprises until absolutely crucial to the story,
  • In a crime thriller or psychological thriller, always introduce calming sections and contrasts. These allow for more scary/exciting scenes later on. 

Sounds pretty basic, yet I ignored my own advice many times during the writing of Secrets and previous works.

From My Novel…

I’m near the conclusion of a psychological thriller after a struggle with writer’s block earlier in the year.

At this point of the story, central character Alan has discovered information about an event he doesn’t fully recall and he is being closely monitored:

At lunchtime, I sprint to the deli to fetch sandwiches for Kerry, Barry and Gordon. The unseen person watches me leave the gym; but he or she is also there when I turn the corner by the main square, scanning me amongst the tourists and the walkers with their binoculars and maps. More than one person must be monitoring me, since no one can be in two places at once. I think again of Gordon’s theory about corrupt officers desperate and mean enough to silence me, but the theory no longer makes sense.

In the deli, I feel the gaze fixed on the back of my head. The person watches me take cash from my wallet and place the cash on the counter, stuff my wallet in my inside jacket pocket, exit with a tray of sandwiches and drinks, and make my way towards Burrington Bridge to the cobbled street where the gym in situated. I wonder how much more of this I can take. It feels like a psychological form of Chinese torture by water drops, designed to make the recipient go mad slowly. I force myself not to glance round and hurry inside, the only place where the gaze isn’t.

The Novel: More Than Two-Thirds Of The Way Through

The struggle with writer’s block has paid off and I’ve now reached sixty thousand words of my novel, a psychological thriller set in the north of England. Central character Alan is  investigating something that happened nine years ago, an event he doesn’t fully remember…

 I continue on at the railway bridge, across the t-junction and down a hilly tree-lined road, scanning the buildings and the side avenues in the hope of answers. Brief flashes come to mind, but none exact, only that I drove down this hilly road in the rain in search of a hoover store for an important meeting that I’d arranged back in London. I felt flat as I drove that other time, the aftertaste of tea from Kaz Bradshaw’s cafe fresh in my mouth. The days when I still added milk to hot drinks. I drove past an RC church with a crucifix. The church is still there, about two-thirds of the way down the leafy road. Nothing against church buildings, but this is freaky.

I reach the bottom of the hill and another set of lights and a familiar tower-like building that reminds me of bells and the rhyme about the oranges and lemons. Row of shops, gastronomical pub, garage, an island with pylon wires overhead. Then, I see it on the other side of the island.

Caught In Traffic (Not Literally)

I haven’t posted for about a week. I’ve been so busy with the novel, a psychological thriller set in the north of England.  It seems to be going well.  The writer’s block appears to have gone, although I’m still stuck in the middle section, like a driver caught up in a traffic jam.  I think it’s a case of getting on with the story, allowing  it to unfold.