How do we keep our stories moving forward? Not always an easy task. I very recently, yesterday in fact, came to a point where the story stalled. I was writing, things were flowing, then without warning…WHAM! Dead end. It felt like I just had the wind knocked out of me. It was all going so well, and then I lost it. I did some writing exercises, took a break, did some reading, but still I was stumped. I was frustrated beyond belief. I’m a creative writer! This is my story, my words, my writing. Everything in this book has come from my own vision of a story. So, I wondered, how is it possible for me to lose my own way. Short answer, I was losing my mind. Long answer, I just needed to calm down and remember something I learned years ago. That every word, every sentence, is there to propel the story forward.
To push a story forward, your characters need something to challenge them, emotionally, morally, or physically. Look at it this way, you are writing a story about a hitman, but the same story has already been told a thousand times. You want your story to stand out…but how? We send something at him that he wasnt expecting. Such as, nobody needs his services. You now have a hitman who has no one to kill. Sounds like a problem. How do you get around that? As writers, we created the brick wall that now stands in the hitman’s way. Now it is our job to help him get past this obstacle. First we ask why? Why is there no one to kill? Is he a lousy hitman? Did the world suddenly run out of people to kill?
Already your creative brain is churning out ways to fix the problem. What you have just done is challenge your character in a way that will force him to move forward. Who knows, maybe forward is to tell the tale of the troubled hitman that suffers from depression and hangs out in bars reminiscing about the old days. Maybe your hitman will seek out new ways to fill the void by taking up knitting blankets for the children’s hospital. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that your story is once again moving forward. Ideas are flowing and you’re back on track. Don’t be afraid if this changes your story. The important thing is to keep writing. Revision is where you can fix what you don’t like. For now, just write.
P.S. If any of your brains were buzzing with hitman scenarios, I would love to read them and see what you all came up with. Email or post in the comments below.