All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Hump Day - The Writing Version

Any writer has been there; many more than once. We have our character, we have our conflict, we know the ending we want. We jump into the creative process full-force - whether with a short story, a novella, or a full-length manuscript, we take on the project eagerly and relentlessly. It is something we have thought about, planned for, and spread out before us as the grand design for a wonderful creation. We hit those words running, and we create. We create a wonderful opening, our first sentence is a real grabber, our character introduction is perfect, everything's right on schedule. And then...


Oof. Then there's a lag. A big, fat, old nothing. We've gotten our story to a point and we look forward and see this big empty page before us. We've burned through the exciting part and now we sit in the thick of creation, and it feels like something's missing. We are no longer connecting things. We know the next conflict, the next challenge, but our character is just sitting there, and we can't seem to figure out just how to get them to the next scene. It's a common problem, but it is the worst thing because we go from full-speed ahead to just sitting on the side of the road.

This is usually a sign that the character is missing an internal driver, or least the writer isn't completely in touch with it quite yet. Often, stories flow like chase scenes - the character hits an intersection and has to turn left, right, straight, or stop. Once that choice is made, they go barreling head-long into the next decision rushing upon them, turning into side plots and character-developing arcs, passing distractions and knocking over inconvenient story obstacles. However, story development isn't always so clean. Sometimes, the rush of the story doesn't force the character to make a choice, and they must make the decision on their own. That's when the trouble comes. That's when the writing can't get over the hump.

When we know a character in full, when we understand them well enough to write about them, we know the little things. Do they prefer chicken or fish? What's their favorite color? What's their go-to song during karaoke? These things may never come up, but we can jump at the opportunity to provide an answer. However, we also need to know what moves them, what draws them in, what makes them interesting enough to have their own story. And one of the most important things we need to know is what moves them from one scene to the next when nobody is chasing them through the story. When the decision is theirs alone, what do they do?

Often, this is difficult to write instinctively because a lot of examples around us are idle examples, or times when the world happens to us, not when we venture out and take a chance. The way to get over the hump is to think about what pushes us internally to make big decisions, to take major steps in life, when nobody is forcing us. We need to find our own inner force, and then look for something similar in our  character. Once we find that, the writing becomes that force pushing us past the hump and into our next scene. From there we continue.

Simply put, to truly know your character, know what moves them, what inspires them. What makes them laugh or cry? What sound might draw them into a room? What might cause them to take a day off of work, or to break from their habits? Know those things, and there won't be any humps to overcome.   

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