by Editor Anne Seymour
Who doesn’t hate writer’s block? There is nothing I abhor more than staring at that blinking cursor, almost teasing me with every blink. So, as a writer, how do you fight back? How do you tell that blinking cursor that you will not conquer me?
How about a fresh perspective? Close the manuscript, take a step back, and look at everything from a different or new angle.
In every good manuscript, there are many elements, but in this blog I will focus on four hot topics: the plot, Point(s) of View, setting, and characters. When writer’s block hits, taking a fresh perspective on any one of these four essentials can help you triumph against the dreaded empty blinking cursor.
The plot of a manuscript is the plan, idea, or main story of a literary work. Without a distinctive plot, a manuscript cannot excel. Yet, just because you have decided on a plot for your story, doesn’t mean that your plot cannot grow, expand, or even change.
For example, in Crimson Rose, I read a plot that centers on a madman threatening to blow up a shopping mall if his brother is not released from prison. You, as the author, are stuck with how to continue the story. Maybe you could do this: develop the plot more by allowing the main character (hero) to be another brother of the villain and the incarcerated. Now the plot has more dimensions and possibilities as a family affair. Never limit the possibilities of your plot! You will only hurt your manuscript by doing this. Francis Quarles, an English poet said, “My soul, sit thou a patient looker-on; Judge not the play before the play is done: Her plot hath many changes; every day Speaks a new scene; the last act crowns the play.”
Next, let’s focus on Points Of View. A Point Of View is the position of the narrator in relation to the story, as indicated by the narrator’s outlook from which the events are depicted and by the attitude toward the characters. Every word in a manuscript must be told from a certain Point of View, making this element critical to a story. When faced with writer’s block, changing a Point of View, expanding one, or adding another one can help eliminate the problem.
For example, in Crimson Rose, I read a story written in first person Point of View, all told from the perspective of the female main character. The author was unsure how to continue the story. I suggested a change in Point of View. Instead of first person, the manuscript was changed to third person with the hero and heroine’s Point of View. The story opened up and bloomed with this new perspective. Henry Ford said, “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from the person’s angle as well as from your own.”
Now let’s talk about setting. The setting of a novel is the locale or period in which the action takes place. For example, our story takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, during present time. To add a new perspective to the manuscript, we could expand the setting by changing the time of day, which casino in Las Vegas the action takes place, or even add some nearby areas, like Hoover Dam.
A character in a story is the last element I will focus on in this blog meant to help beat the dreaded writer’s block. A character, like a human being, is individual and must be given dimensions. If stuck with how to continue a story, consider giving your characters more depth. Add traits, tics, flaws and strengths to your characters. For example, a historical heroine who is a lady, swears, rides horses, can shoot like a pro but has the flaws of trusting everyone and being clumsy.
To conclude, I hope some of my suggestions will help in defeating the dreaded blinking cursor. But above all, remember that closing the computer, taking a step back, then coming back to your work will help in any new perspectives needed to complete your manuscript successfully. Happy Writing!