The official blog of Jane Domagala


So you think you might have writer's block. You can't start that story, or are stuck in the middle of one, or struggling to finish.

We've all heard the term writer's block, but what does that actually mean? For me, it's just a nice way of saying, "I've got no frickin' idea what I'm trying to say or where my story is going."

If you're having trouble starting a book and can't write, it usually means you having spent enough time getting to know your story, and/or your characters. You may need to do some more Preproduction. If you're stuck in the middle, then you've possibly come up against a situation where you don't know how your characters would react. Stuck at the end, obviously means you don't know how your story should end, which again comes back to not knowing how your characters will react.

The best way to get the creative juices flowing is to brainstorm. What I do when I'm stuck is open up a new word doc (you could use a notebook if you prefer to hand-write) title it Problems, and then ask myself lots of questions.

What is the consequence if my character does this....?
My characters need to be here, how can I get them there logically?
Why would my character save the world, when she wants to go to the pub?
What motivates my characters?
What are my characters' worst fears? How can I use that in the story?
Where do I want my characters to be emotionally/physically at the end of the book?

Tailor your questions to the problems your facing in your story. In fantasy, problems can also arise with magic and world building.

What are the rules that magic must adhere to?
Are these rules made by civilisation or physics/nature?
Is having magic a good thing, or a bad thing?
Does having magic make you powerful, or are you shunned?
What is the social structure of the world?
Where do my characters sit in this social structure?
Is the world modern, medieval, ancient, or futuristic?

I find it also helps to look into your characters' pasts. Write up a summary of their life's story.

How did/do they relate to their parents?
Do they have sibling?
Was their childhood a happy or horrible experience?

Most of this information won't end up in your novel, but it can help to understand how your characters will react in different situations. It also helps to know if your characters are proactive or reactive. A proactive character goes out and finds trouble, while a reactive character waits for trouble to come to them. See my blog on Is the World Inherently Lazy for ways to get reactive characters out of their chairs and up saving the world.

So, next time you get stuck go into brainstorming mode and you'll soon find yourself untangling the problem-knots that have been keeping you from progressing in your story.


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