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Behind the scenes: for the stumped writer

Say you have this great series going. It’s got positive feedback and a broadening fan base that is inhaling the stories. Your editor thinks that the most recent coupling may be her favorite thus far. Everyone can’t wait for what’s coming next. You’re half way from alpha to omega in your overarching story line with a clear vision of your destination. Suddenly, you have no idea how to get there. The plot for the next book was set into motion by moving the secondary or tertiary character to the forefront. Let’s call him “Adam” for argument’s sake. He plays a crazy important role in the series wrap up. You’ve given Adam all the characteristics that make readers interested to know what the heck is going on with this guy. He’s turned into a complete douche since his introduction. He’s making miserable choices… And now you have to make someone fall in love with Mister Fantastic. Oh, crap. First, Let me be blunt: You don’t have writer’s block. You only have character issues (although, don’t we all?) Let’s focus on the things you can do that will help you through the process while creating usable content that can provide value later on.

  • Interview Adam’s best friend. Find out why he’d put up with the unsavory parts of his behavior. What is good about Adam?

  • Write a scene from when Adam was growing up.

  • Be a fly on the wall listening to a conversation between Adam’s parents. It may not have anything to do with Adam, but remember that family secrets affect the people who they are being hidden from. (-or as MJA said to me recently “just because you don’t tell me what you’re stressed out about doesn’t mean the underlying tension isn’t there.” Damn, I love this guy. He's so smart!)

  • Create a female lead that will put up with him. Include details from her backstory that support why she would do this.

  • Write something ridiculous that Adam has done that makes him more gentle/human/heroic.

  • READ and dissect books about miserable guys forced to redeem themselves and REVIEW them.

  • Remember that Adam will still have lingering negative characteristics. People don’t change overnight. What are they?

  • Ask your readers what they think is going to happen. Project into the future. What is Adam like 10 years from now?

  • Search for images of what you think Adam looks like and share them on social media.

  • Write a short story about another character and give Adam a few one-liners that describe his personality quirks.

  • Ask the girls Adam’s dated a few lascivious questions.

  • Do something completely unrelated to writing. *blog post on this to come!

  • Go back to a situation from a previous book and rewrite it from Adam’s perspective.

  • Write Adam flawless and chose the positive aspects that most match his personality.

The bullet points above can fill a notebook. I encourage you to write them out freehand to keep the creative juices flowing instead of hunkering down with your computer and limiting the opportunities to jot notes. And as I mentioned above this “work” isn’t a sidetrack. It’s going to create content for your social media accounts, website, blog and future endeavors. The scenes become bonus content or roll into chapters for another book. The answers to questions get edited to be part of the story. Got suggestions? I'd love to hear from you! Good luck!

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