Beating the Writer’s Block

Right now, I’ve hit a bit of snag in my writing. I’m a few chapters in and I am unsure on how to progress from where I am at. I have a storyboard and basic layout of the plot but I’m just hitting my head against the wall second guessing how I SHOULD write it.

Any thoughts?

Jak


Hi Jak,

I actually get this question a lot. So without knowing a ton about your specific case, I’ve been in your shoes at least in some way. You’ve got a great story, great ideas, but several directions you can go in with said ideas.

Well… I remember back in High School when we were taking SATs, we were told that if we didn’t know the answer, to go with our initial thought. Like you look at the answers and the first one that stands out as being right is the one you should go with. They didn’t want anyone second guessing themselves because then they’d foul up.
At the time, I thought that there was so much wrong with that advice… however when I realized how much of a time constraint we had, and how many of my answers turned out to be right when I went with me ‘gut.’ I realized that there was some value in it.
Intuition is a very powerful tool.

The same can be said for writing. If you’ve got a bunch of ideas flowing, go with the first one that pops out at you. Write it all out and get it on paper so that you can see and read your ideas. Often you’re going to find that those ideas were better in your head, but in most occasions, those initial ideas may only need a few tweaks here and there to iron them out.

In the instances where you read through and just think ‘Eh… this is stupid!’ you can always go back and change anything (or everything) that you need to.

So basically what I want you to do is sit down, look at what you have so far and ask yourself the question ‘What comes next?’ Then just write the first thing that comes to you. Don’t bother with any second thoughts, you can deal with those later.

Hope this helps. Readers, what do you think Jak should do in this situation? Let me know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Current Events, and Why I Don’t Write About Them.

 

Hi Jim,

You mentioned a while back about writing politics in fiction. I was wondering if you could give some examples of how you deal with current events in your books. I’m looking to try to paint an accurate picture of some things that have happened recently.

Thanks,
James


Hi James,

I snagged your question because I wanted to tackle this, give what’s currently going on in the U.S.

Sorry to disappoint, but I do not cover current events or political topics in my writing. If I cover social issues, I do it in a way as to incorporate it as a theme in my books.

Example;

I handle topics of racism by creating a race that is despised by others due to past transgressions and go through the damage that is caused as a result. I do not say who is wrong or right, nor do I condemn anyone. I lay out the story, give the details of both sides and let the reader decide. That is as far as I will ever go.

You’re probably wondering by this point why I don’t cover them… well two reasons. One, most of my work is historical fantasy so current events wouldn’t have a place.  Secondly, I don’t cover current events and political issues because frankly… I create worlds for people looking for an escape. We already have plenty of news sources that remind us on a minute basis that there is horrible crap going on in the world. My readers don’t need to hear about it in the worlds I invite them to explore.
More over though, I don’t cover them because frankly, there is no winning. Look at how badly our country is divided right now.

You’ve got extremists on both sides literally killing each other, pundits making horribly one-sided arguments and supporters condemning anyone who doesn’t share their views or not taking one side over the other. My writing about it would solve NOTHING, and just make people even more bitter.

It’s ridiculous, it’s everywhere, and frankly, it’s a fight no one wins. So why bother playing it? I have platforms out there where I converse with people about this kind of thing. I don’t need to do it in my writing and I think my readers appreciate that.

So, sorry if you’re disappointed by my answer, but I made a promise to myself to keep my worlds away from this horrible nonsense and preserve my readers’ escape. I stand by that decision.

So… I’m sorry James, but I’m afraid I have no advice for you here. All I can say is to treat your audience like adults, make no assumptions, and don’t preach. Its the only thing I can say.

Readers, maybe you can help our friend here, or do you agree with my stance? Let me know.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Quick update… Drakin, The Story of Raiya

So we don’t have a release date yet… However the cover design is taking shape and the first draft is complete and in review.

We also have a synopsis ready to go, which I will share with you now…


“Abomination, freak, monster…”  You get used to names like these when you have yellow eyes, horns, and scales, but Raiya could have really cared less.

After being forced into exile because of her appearance, Raiya’s mind has been focused on one goal; hunting down the dragon lord that killed her parents. For over thirty years, humanity has been locked in a struggle for survival against a race of dragons that had fallen from the heavens. They took everything from her and consumed the planet in a fierce war. Humanity’s numbers are quickly dwindling, leaving her few options in the way of allies.

What she doesn’t know is that her journey will strike at the very heart of the Red War and uncover truths about her past that she may not want to know. Can she finish what she started while coming to terms with the truths of her origin?


Hopefully, you’re as excited as I am about the release. I will deliver more updates as I get them. Please just be patient with us!

Thanks all,

Jim



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

The Last Rite Redemption

 

Hi Jim,

I have a character in my story that I want to turn from a bad guy into a good guy. The problem is that he’s guilty of committing several atrocities including mass genocide. I don’t see how I can turn him into a good guy in a way that I can redeem him. Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Linney


Hi Linney,

Oooooo that is a tough one. Redeeming someone who committed mass genocide is certainly a tall order and frankly… it’s impossible. Morally, there really isn’t any way a person can be redeemed for committing such a heinous crime. I think at most, heroes would accept that person as an ally of convenience at most.

In truth, both Lucasfilm and Marvel really seemed to struggle with this one. Lucasfilm had to find a way to ‘save’ Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi. This is the guy who killed multiple Jedi including young children. How can one be redeemed from something like that? Well… they went about it in kind of a weird way. It’s sort of an ambiguous explanation, but Obi Wan seems to imply that Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker are in fact two different people. Could it be that the force influence over a Jedi alters their personality when they go from light to dark and vice versa?
Luke: You mean it controls your actions?
Obi Wan: Partially, but it also obeys your commands.

Obi Wan: Your father was seduced by the dark side of the force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father, was destroyed.

So it is kind of implied that this is the case.

Marvel really messed up on this one… everyone already knows my opinion on the Phoenix Saga, but when the writers decided to resurrect Jean Grey, they had to figure out a way to do it that absolved her of the mass genocide she’d committed as Phoenix… despite the fact that she wasn’t even really responsible for her actions. To do that, they made it so that her and the Phoenix were two different beings and the Phoenix had essentially copied her physical characteristics.

So if you’re not willing to do a workaround, and I highly advise against it, I’d say that you probably can’t absolve the character. You can have them work for good, but they’ll never be out from under what they did. At best, I’d say by the end of the story, kill that character off. Have them sacrifice themselves to save the heroes or another large group of people.
I call this particular plot device the ‘Last Rite Redemption’. In my opinion the only way to cleanse the soul of someone who has committed such horrible crimes would be for that person to willingly give their lives to destroy an ultimate evil or save an ultimate good. Even then it may not be a redemption, but that’s as close as you’re going to get.

If you’re hoping to make that character a hero… likely that’s never going to happen.

Readers, what do you think? Do you have any advice for Linney?

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

The Cameo Takeover

Hi Jim,

I’m trying to write a new story and have a few characters make cameos from the previous one. Basically my story is set in the same timeline and one or two characters make appearances in order to connect the stories. However I seem to run into issues with the cameo characters taking over the story. I’ve had to do a rewrite a few times. Can you help me?

Thanks,
Michaela


 

Mi Micahaela,

If you’re having so much trouble limiting your old characters’ appearances… why not make the new story about them? If you love your characters so much that you can’t help but keep writing about them, there is no rule saying that you can’t just make the story about them with maybe your new characters simply joining the team.

The other thing you can do is give your character cameos one or two scenes and then cut them off completely. Don’t bring them back in and don’t mention them again, just make a clean break.

Without knowing more details about the characters, I’m afraid I can’t offer too much more in the way of guidance. Please feel free to email me when you get a chance.

Readers, what about you? Any other advice?



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Writers vs. Fans… Who Makes the Call.

 

Hi Jim,

I’m currently writing a sequel to a short story I posted recently and was hoping you could give me some advice. I’ve been getting a lot of people emailing me with questions, suggestions, and criticisms about the previews. A lot of people don’t seem to like the direction I’m taking my story. To me it feels natural, but given the level of objection, I’m wondering if I should scrap the story all together and start from scratch. I don’t know what to do.

Thanks,
MB Nelson.


Hi MB,

You have my sympathies. That’s a pretty tough conundrum you’re dealing with. My advice is and has always been to write how you want to write. In the end, your fans are your fans because they like what YOU created.

That being said, I know a lot of people these days are angry about reboots of beloved series and movies (Ghostbusters, Star Trek, etc.), and I’m definitely in their camp. However I’m not against these series and reboots being made. I simply vote with my dollar and don’t partake in these movies/books/TV shows if I don’t think I’ll like them.

So that’s the rub, you have every right to create your stories from your IP as you see fit. Just be aware, your audience also has the right to criticize your work and choose not to partake in it. This is a risk we, as writers, have to take every day of our lives. I always take constructive criticism, but in the end, I’ll still do what I believe is right whether that is following the advice or not.

One side note I will say, do not get mad at your fan base. As I’ve stated in multiple posts, getting mad, argumentative, or going out of your way to taunt your detractors, or accuse them of some kind of bias is a quick way to lose yourself an audience. Take the criticisms with a grain of sand and do as you see fit. Just keep a cool head.

If you wind up losing a large portion of your audience or they don’t like your book, then you have a few options open to you…

  1. Abandon the series. I don’t recommend this lightly, but if you’re doing this as a source of income and people really don’t like the direction you’re taking your story, then it may be time to end it. Fans are a fickle thing and once they’re turned off, it can be very hard to win them back unless the next follow up is Empire Strikes Back level good.
  2. Divergent Timeline. I know a few people MAY see this as kowtowing a bit and maybe it is, but usually when I write, I have multiple directions in mind that a story can go. After fleshing the story out, I’m subject to change that because something didn’t fit. Maybe you could explore one of the other paths and create a sort of ‘what if’ timeline. I actually have a few novels written like that which I’ve never published.
  3. Press on. If you’ve got the sort of Devil May Care attitude, you can try to press on and hope that the overall story will reconnect with your fans… its not easy to do and I’ve rarely seen it succeed, but it’s not impossible.

Anyway I hope this helps a little bit. I definitely think you should write your story the way it works for you. Above all else, if you’re not enthusiastic about what you write, you certainly can’t expect your fans to be.

Let’s open this up though, readers does anyone have a suggestion for Nelson? Let us know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Major Character Trait Annoyance!

 

This is more of a rant, so if you’re looking for advice, you can skip this post.

Have you ever seen or read about a character that at some point in the story encounters an issue that he was neither the cause of nor at fault with… yet when he’s confronted, he says nothing… for no apparent reason?

It’s especially frustrating when the person who confronted him later finds out that the character wasn’t at fault… but for some reason doesn’t ask why that character didn’t tell him the truth.

In cases where the character is standing up for, or defending, someone else, it’s understandable. However in other cases where there is no logical reason for it, the character keeps his mouth shut, thus incurring the wrath for something s/he isn’t guilty of.

So my question is why? Why does a character do this? All the writer accomplishes by having their character do this is getting the audience mad and making them yell at the screen/book saying, “What are you doing? Defend yourself! It wasn’t your fault!”

Am I missing something here? Let me know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim