Clash your symbols to blast through writer’s block

SPOILER ALERT (if you are reading Pride’s Children as we go along, you may want to skip this one for now.) This is my WRITING blog, and some viewers may be more interested in my odd techniques than in my stories.

I think of WRITERS’ BLOCKS as objects in my path I need to blast through to get to where I’m writing.

It helps me immensely to write down why I’m blocked, what’s holding me up, possible solutions, bits and pieces about how I got to an impasse. IOW, I write myself out of the block by studying it instead of running from it.

Stuck on the Chapter 11 debacle, where I need to also set things up for a later chapter, I’m looking for things one character can know about another that she shouldn’t – showing that the character isn’t exactly who she is assumed to be.

It is critical for a sense of betrayal in another character.

I’ve been struggling with it since I first wrote the rough draft of the scene, years ago, but the time has come to resolve exactly what it is that she knows about him, so he can feel betrayed – because she SHOULDN’T know him that well.

A bit cryptic? And foggy, too – but that’s the way plot points go until you figure them out – and then they’re so obvious you wonder why you ever had any trouble with them.

So here’s how to get through some types of writer’s blocks (plural intended): as I went over the scenes in my mind, there was a point at which Andrew takes his uncle’s ring – which he wears whenever he isn’t acting – out of the safe in his trailer. Kary is there (another long story). She doesn’t SAY anything, but she DOES react oddly, and he later realizes she knew the ring’s story – and that she couldn’t have, unless she’d seen an obscure point buried deep in a conversation with an interviewer and on the web in a fan website, on a back page. IOW, she would have had to read a LOT about him to find that particular nugget.

At the time, he only notes her odd reaction. Later, he will piece it together with other bits to realize she isn’t exactly who he thought she was. And that she has changed from when he met her. It creeps him out.

The point is not the specifics, but the point IS that I know that ring is a SYMBOL – I set it up that way deliberately when I gave him the uncle and the RING a long time ago, so that my mind was primed when she and I saw it come up in the scene – but that it has taken me a week to catch that it is a part of the reason this scene is in the book, and a pivotal part at that.

I should have (and will in the future) looked to my SYMBOLS when I reached the impasse: I actually have a list of them (they stop being symbols and become merely tags if you use too many of them). Each character has several objects that are important, that underscore something personal and private about that character, and that are used in the story to show changes and progress – I had just forgotten to USE this one.

And a symbol also loses its power to explain things if it’s planted too far back in a story and the READER can’t remember it. It needs to be mentioned periodically in a connection that seems unimportant but isn’t.

I think the ring wanted to remind ME that it was there. To be USED.

And I think that this particular writer’s block is now shattered. And the pieces used to neatly plug a plot hole.

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