Sometimes, when you’re writing . . . especially when it’s a novel . . . you need to stop and listen. To whom? Your characters! I was stuck the other night. Couldn’t figure what to do for the next scene, (I’m on page 127), when I stopped to think about one of the characters. Who would he talk to? Who did he care about? What would he be thinking about? And bam, it was crystal clear. It really isn’t that hard. If you’re having trouble with one of your characters, just stop and try to figure out who they resemble in your real life. Then imagine a day in that person’s life. Where would they go? Who are their friends? What kind of trouble would they get into — or help someone else out of? If you do that . . . you’ll have a “bam” moment too! Wondering about my characters? Go to http://www.annrichduncan.com. You’ll find The SEED, my novel of suspense, and the first three Johnny Vic historical adventures.
“Like, I start the day ready to write up a storm.
I look at the empty screen. It stays empty.”
Does that sound familiar? Well don’t dispair, it happens to all of us. I found the perfect remedy after I was stumbling on my second Johnny Vic book. Some say, “Just write anything and soon you’ll get the creative juices flowing.” Sorry! Never works for me. I end up with jibberish. But wait! A sudden epiphony! The creation of a story takes two efforts. It isn’t just the writing . . . it’s the research, too! (even with fiction).
When the words don’t come to you, you have to go to them. Duh.
It’s just your muse telling you to relax and put on your Google eyes: flesh out the scene by researching the site where it takes place and adding factual information. Perhaps you could describe the building: was it designed by a famous architect? should it remind your reader of a past home? is it made of crumbling bricks or do the windows sparkle in the sunlight? Is it a city block or a country homestead? Can the character relate to the history of the place? Or, perhaps, you can describe a creature that scuttles by.
Just simply Google that thing, place, event, creature, whatever . . . and then, the results will most likely spur you on to add some details to your scene. For me, those details end up writing the story.
With my current “work in progress” I was researching the Sonora Desert and found out about an endangered species of cactus. Its rate of growth and the rarity of it helped me to work out a very important scene in which John Victor gets saved.
So now, when I find myself staring at a blank page, I take it as a sign that I just have to Google something. The following scene literally flowed after I’d done a bit of research about native Americans that Johnny Vic would have come across in his journey back thru time to the American Revolution. It involves an item I had never heard of. A firesteel. It’s on page 92 of “Travel With Johnny Vic” . . .
Ten minutes later, Jenny raced back into the house. “Dr. John! Dr. John! I can’t find him–but I did find this!” She held up a small metallic object and Linda’s heart wobbled when she saw Dr. John’s reaction. “What is it, Dr. John? What?”
He held it up for her to see. “I’m afraid this firesteel has a wolf pattern scratched into it. It may have been dropped by an Iroquois.” Linda said, “Firesteel?” Dr. John gave her a sidelong look. The woman did not recognize a common firesteel? “It’s the latest toy for the Iroquois . . . .” blah blah blah.
Firesteel. Calvin Coolidge. Civil War. GMO’s. Heirloom seeds. Cochise. etc., etc. I’ve researched them all. And more for my books. Your story could easily become a published book, with enough actual factual info!
Want more? Check out my books a www.annrichduncan.com!