Saturday, January 23, 2010

Young Writer Writes,
I recently started writing about a year ago. All my friends say i have really good ideas but I keep hitting a wall. I plan everything out but for some odd reason at like 35- 50 pages i run out of ideas....It is very frustrating... :/ Do you have any advice?

Dear YW,
This malady is common in writers, old and young, and it may happen for several different reasons. You may find my earlier post on Writer’s Block helpful.
If you run out of plot before your novel is of publishable length, you may be writing a short story. There may not be enough characters and conflict to warrant a novel-length work.
If you want to write a novel, you will need to introduce more conflict, characters, and subplots. New writers tend to be very linear in their thinking. This is the character, this is the problem, and this is what happens. It doesn’t take much space to deliver that kind of story. In writing a first draft, allow your mind the freedom to create connections and conflicts that you hadn’t anticipated or planned at the front end.
Play the “what-if” game. What if, in addition to being besieged by wizards at home, Raisa’s mother plans to marry her off as soon as she turns 16 to a suitor who might cause a civil war? Plus, the young soldier Raisa is in love with is ignoring her, and the ambitious prince of a neighboring country is threatening to invade?
What if Jack’s aunt actually turns out to be….
Consider yourself—your life is full of dramas, big and small. Consider your friends. They all have their own agendas, relationships, conflicts, and desires.
Layer those other conflicts and subplots onto your skeleton of story in order to flesh it out.
Here are some examples:
In addition to being the last of a guild of magical warriors being hunted by wizards to play in a magical tournament to the death, Jack’s girlfriend just broke up with him and the town bully is out to get him, and he doesn’t get along with the principal at the high school, and he doesn’t know if he’s going to make the soccer team. –The Warrior Heir
Not only is Seph a wizard who can’t control his powers, he’s been booted out of every school he’s attended, he’s an orphan who has recently lost his foster mother, and he’s responsible for the death of a friend. –The Wizard Heir
Madison Moss wants to be an artist, but there’s no money for college and her mother is flighty and irresponsible, leaving Madison to care for her younger siblings. A local coal company wants to force her off the mountain she loves. Plus Madison is thought to be a witch in her home town. –The Wizard Heir
More on this topic in my next post.

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