Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shut Up & Write Through It!

Having trouble turning that 2nd act? Your "opportunity" being a problem child?

Sure we can talk about a bunch of different techniques and solutions to the issue, but at some point you've got to...

Shut Up & Write Through It!

Hero seems too passive? Then write 3 paragraphs of him kicking ass. They don't even have to be linear within your story arc. Just write the opposite of whatever in the hell he was doing that was so freaking boring!

Then, after you have proven to yourself that your hero can, in fact, kick some grade-A ass, you can go back and re-write whatever scene was bugging you.

Oh, wait... I can hear the wailing now......

But, but, but, Carolyn you don't understand my hero is complex and I have a set of magic rules that won't allow him in the presence of a water snake to...

Anybody guess what I'm going to say?

That's right! Shut Up & Write Through It.

The beauty of that advice is that it cuts across all genres. Westerns, Serious Lit, Sci Fi, Non-Fiction, even Erotica for that matter.

And yes, I can give more specific advice on plot issues or character development, but in the end, you've got to WRITE your way through your problem.

But, but, but, Carolyn... "Don't I have to THINK my way through it first?"

Sure, take 10 minutes and think about it. Get some advice from friends, but then in 11 minutes, sit down and WRITE THROUGH IT.

Most writers that are stuck and not achieving the writing goals they have laid out for themselves (and this includes newbies all the way up to NYT Bestsellers) are OVER thinking and UNDER writing.

More than likely you got stuck in the first place is because you are actually freaked out about writing as a whole. You feel worried, or nervous, or undeserving. So, of course, the creative juices are going to stop flowing.

Once what was a wide, swift river carrying down your storyline, is now a trickling creek.

And the only way I have found to turn that beautiful faucet back on is to WRITE.

Trust yourself. You'll figure it out.

Even if you don't there are plenty of people who can help you.

But I'm telling you, sometimes the only thing you need to do is...


P.S. For that chick with the complex hero that can't do magic in the presence of a water snake...
1) Trust me, your hero isn't that complex.
As all heroes, he simply wants something he doesn't think he can have. And in this case I can almost guarantee you it is a babe :-)

All a plot is, is a series of obstacles keeping him from this objective. The magician is there to see that he has the knowledge to overcome any of these hurdle.

2) Not being able to do magic is probably the best thing that ever happened to your hero. Stripping your hero of his power and making him confront his mortality is as old as Achilles. It forces him to dig deeper. His true complexity is revealed in how he handles getting the wind knocked out of him.

Alright, my left pinky is getting tired of holding down the 'shift' key to type all these SHUT UPS and WRITES.

So, your assignement is to take a scene, paragraph, poem, that just isn't 'working' and write your way through it.

Don't judge. Don't self-edit, just let the re-write flow and see where it takes you.

Let me know how it goes either on the stream or in the comment box below! :-)


  1. Needed to find you today...have been so "stuck" for a while.
    I especially liked the part about "turning the beautiful faucet back on." Never thought of it as "beautiful" only problematic. Different much-needed visual for me...thanks! :-)

  2. I think that's some of the better advice I've seen. Especially the "Write your hero kicking ass" thing. That's going to be my rock as I work to find the pacing for my story.

    Thank you.