Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blocked Much?

As a fledgling novelist, I have devoted several hours a day, over the course of the last eight months, to writing, re-writing and writing again. Although friends and family members have been supportive of my endeavor to write a novel, my journey has been a solitary experience. I’ve found that discussing the topic for more than two minutes, resulted in glazed looks that screamed the lights were on, but nobody was home. Understandably so, as I have learned that only a fellow writer could relate to the complexities of establishing plot twists, or creating sympathetic characters.

Now that this blog site is established, I find it cathartic to finally have a place to “vent” about my writing experiences. Before doing so, however, I would like to provide you with some background on my novel. Thus far, I’ve completed 210 pages of my manuscript. Although industry experts warn that an author should never pigeon hole their work into a certain genre, for the sake of brevity, my story is best described as a supernatural, political thriller. The premise or theme of my book is based on the enduring belief that good defeats evil.  The plot begins in the 16th century Mayan jungle, and ends in a supernatural conspiracy that leads to the White House in the 21st century. Since my novel takes place in two different time periods, braiding the plots together so the story flows in a believable manner, has been quite tedious and grueling.

Now that you have a basic concept of what my book is about, I would also like to share my writing experience for the week. Essentially, I have never used the “delete” and “backspace” keys so much in my life. Talk about your classic case of writer’s block…Wow!. After spending countless hours in front of the computer,  I only turned out four paragraphs. Feeling frustrated and alone, I abandoned my project for a few days to consider the reason I was experiencing such difficulty with my writing. Unfortunately, my poor husband wound up on the receiving end of my frustration. After listening to an hour’s worth of “Woe is me’s,” he told me to suck it up and figure out what was causing my problem.

Although I did not care for my husband’s approach, deep down I knew he was right. I took his advice and considered where in the chapter I was experiencing problems. I figured out that my plot had two issues. First, I did not like the role that the angel (an important character )played in my story. He definitely needed to be developed more. Secondly, the prophecy, which my story is based on, seemed contrived and wooden.  I went back to square one and researched the topic my book is based on (I plan to unfold that in later blogs). Finally, I came up with a plot twist that should knock the reader’s socks off.

Much to my delight, I discovered that re-thinking the direction I wanted my scene to take resolved my writer’s block. The next time I worked on my novel, I experienced the writer’s equivalent of a “runner’s high.” The words flowed like a powerful fountain and I wound up adding five more pages to my manuscript.

The moral to the story, if you ever experience writer’s block, and I’m sure you will if you stick with your novel, then you should consider that perhaps the reason is hidden in the details. In my case, I was not satisfied with the pinnacle of my plot, so I took some time and conducted more research. I think the extra effort will make the difference between a compelling novel, and one that is mediocre.

Until next week…Happy writing