Most novels are written on the premise of "what if." Our What-if muscles help us figure out what needs to come next in the story. Sometimes we're lucky and we just know. More often (at least for me) we often have no clue what needs to happen next.
When I write non-fiction for awhile, my fiction “What-if” muscle gets seriously out of shape. Thankfully, other writers who know more than I do share their tools.
Here are several ways to get unstuck if your What-if muscle is feeling flabby.
Change creative mediums
Something that always helps is to brainstorm with different types of people. I recommend a writer friend, a non-writer friend, a newbie writer and someone who writes in a different genre. One of my favorite gals for brainstorming is Leanne Banks. Below are some of her top tricks for getting “unstuck.”
Write an autobiography of your characters and ask them provocative questions like:
Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is a classic must-read for writers. Not only does she give you “permission to write crap,” she also gives stellar brainstorming advice such as:
Leanne Banks also offers these tips:
Leanne's Creative “What-if” Techniques
Other great brainstorming articles and tools:
And finally, if you are having trouble with your book, there is one other impediment to consider: YOU. Cindy Dees said something in a workshop I went to last week that stuck in the minds of everyone there: "The three reasons why most of the writers I mentor are unpublished are personal, emotional or psychological. It has nothing to do with their writing."
Don't let your own fears and angst keep you from your story. You have the talent to write an amazing book. I know it. I hope you know it too.
Are you ready to stagger over to your work in progress and bring forth brainstorming magnificence? What techniques help you when your “what-if” muscle needs a workout?
By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.
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