You wrote a furious first half, then faltered. Blocked.
You’d set up the situation of your story and put your characters in motion, felt good about what you’d done, and suddenly could not find your way forward. Oh, you could keep writing. You had a plot outline, and you weren’t totally blank, but you didn’t like any of the possibilities that came to mind. Or something like that.
Hopefully, your work didn’t fall into a drawer or the trash at that point.
Facing a block today, I remembered an exercise from a writing workshop–writing a first-person monologue from the point of view of a minor character in the story. The purpose of the exercise was to add depth to characters and learn more about our developing stories. Writers like to say “learn” as thought the story is waiting to be discovered. That’s how it feels. It may be more accurate to say that there can be many reasons for a character’s actions, and looking through the eyes of the POV character isn’t always the best way to understand them.
Guess what, learning more about the story can help a writer get over a block. Seems obvious.
I gave today’s monologue to a character named Bright, a man antagonistic to the main character, but unlikely to affect events in a big way. He’d appeared only twice, and I chose him for the exercise because I knew he needed to get into the story again. I’ve noted before that we can’t introduce characters and forget about them. That happens in life, not in fiction. Well, maybe in some types of fiction, like if dropping people is supposed to be the point.
In the monologue exercise, Bright redefined his role from his point of view. Result: a new scene, new possibilities. Block over.