Help, I'm stuck!

by Gina

Question: I'm writing a story about a cop who has to protect his daughter from an obsessed, supernatural stalker. I was doing well until I tried to write the interrogation. The stalker has the ability to make women lower their guard and develop affection for him through skin contact. The more contact you have the more you crave a drug and once you have been exposed, you go through withdrawal if it's taken away.

I had a whole chapter planned out where the stalker infects the dad's lady partner to gain more info on the cop's daughter and get her to help him escape while the cop has to try to figure out how to detox his partner and keep his daughter safe from the escaped stalker. But it's not coming out right. I'm on chapter 14 and it's been months since I've been able to write. I don't know what's wrong with me. The people who read my story are mad that I haven't been able to write after leaving off on a crucial cliffhanger (the cop arrested the stalker but the stalkers sister has broken into his house and with his daughter and she doesn't know she's in the house)

I don't want to lose my readers but I can't write it. I don't know why. I've already written the next three chapters but I can't write this one and without it the story can't go on.

What should I do?

Answer: While I can't say definitely what will get you through this block, here are a few suggestions.

1. Write a bad draft first, then revise.

Sometimes the anxiety around wanting to make a chapter be as powerful as you want it to can paralyze you. Try to lessen that anxiety by giving
yourself permission to write a bad version first. It's always easier to revise a bad draft than to fill a blank page, so do several revised versions, making each on a little better, until you have something you're happy with.

2. Try writing a draft from a different perspective.

For instance, if you've been writing from the main character's point of view, try writing from the villain's, or the partner's. Try writing from the perspective of 20 years later (with someone recounting what happened) or write a character planning/imagining what will happen.

These are just practice runs of course, not the actual chapter. Their purpose is to give you insight into the characters and open up possibilities.

3. Introduce surprises.

What's the most unexpected or surprising thing that could happen? Throw your characters a curve ball and see how they react (while keeping with their objectives).

Maybe the problem is that you know what should happen, but it's not interesting enough to you anymore. So break your own expectations. Give yourself a curve ball in the form of a surprise plot event and see what what you can do with it. If that doesn't work, try adding two surprises.

Note: the surprise could be a discovery rather than an event. Perhaps the revelation of a piece of unexpected backstory?

4. What would happen if you cut the scene altogether?

As an experiment, you might omit the scene and just show how the characters react afterward to what happened. Create a mystery. Make the reader wonder what actually happened to make the characters behave that way. Then give them a surprise solution to the mystery later. (This is a delaying tactic, but it can work sometimes because you may get a great idea after you've written more.)

Best of luck.

Comments for Help, I'm stuck!

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by: Anonymous

Just put a turn in it...

Stymie the stalker
by: Celeste

Make the female partner a supernatural being who is here on another mission. She recognizes the stalker as being supernatural, but he is so focused on attaining his goals that he fails to realize that she is supernatural as well. She becomes a protector to the girl, in a very clever and secret way.

Or perhaps the female partner wears a perfume with an ingredient that makes the touch of the stalker have no effect whatsoever. The ingredient comes from an exotic location where some of the inhabitants indulge in occult practices, or the plant that yields the ingredient has mystical properties.

You don't want to get off on a completely unrelated tangent, but the stalker needs an adversary that is as powerful as he is and likely to thwart his goals.

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