-Mysterious Humor Author
"How do you come up with your ideas?"
Some authors claim to hate that question. I'm merely flummoxed by it because, honestly, where DON'T I come up with ideas? Every bush in my neighborhood could hide a body. Every sharp edge could be used as a weapon. In southern California, we have oleander plants all over the place - hello, Mr. Heart Attack.
The crime's not that hard. It's winding your way through the plot and subplots to get to the finish line that's difficult. This is where writer's block rears its ugly head.
|No, not this ugly head.|
I don't think I've ever had writer's block, but I often experience writer's dread. It's that feeling of ambiguous yet impeding doom, as I approach my laptop and open the file. I want to reach my word count for the day but I need that word count to contain the right words, the good ones, the brilliant words that will propel the story forward instead of spinning in a verbal hamster wheel.
How does a writer push forward with their story, and make it interesting for the reader? Here are some of my go-to dread-busters:
1. The Soupy Sales approach. For those of you youngsters, Soupy Sales was a comic who had a children's show. It was crazy, zany, and I loved it. The set looked like a kind of house, with a door at the back. At some point, there would either be a knock or a scream or some kind of noise, and Soupy would open the door. There might be a celebrity behind the door, or they'd show a clip of an elephant stampede, or something wacky (once the crew hired a stripper). Much like the rest of the show, it was unexpected.
In my own manuscript, I might have Peri in her office. There's a knock at the door. Who can it be? (No, it's never the elephants.) Usually, someone with information or a clue shows up. Lucky me.
2. The 15-year-old boy approach. They like car crashes and explosions and heavy gunfire on the screen, like, every ten minutes or more.
I don't usually blow things up, but I might hit Peri with a golf club or get assaulted by a suspect. This is not gratuitous action, like in Transformers. First of all, getting to the action requires writing the preparation for the scene. Second, mysteries must always be ramping up the stakes for the main character. In any case, I'm now writing through the dread.
(Every time I hit someone in the head in my books, I think of this scene for some reason.)
3. The left-turn-at-Albuquerque approach.
By that, I just mean I think of something surprising for my character to do. I'll warn you, this kind of writing might not appear in the finished story. Sometimes it helps me to loosen up the words and get the plot moving if I just have Peri get drunk and sing karaoke, then have Benny show up and sing a Dino duet with her. It's not a scene I'll use... or maybe I will, eventually. I have to say, it's pretty freakin' funny.
Now you know my secret. Well, this one. I'm still not telling you about the time I... oh, yeah, what do other writers do when writer's dread sets in?