When asked what they do when they get “writer’s block”, I found it interesting that these two had the same idea:
“I play solitaire…I deal out the cards whenever I feel the need for a break in concentration, and play three games or until I win, whichever comes first.” – Lawrence Block, novelist
“I play computer solitaire. If three games don’t do it, I play three more.” – Nancy Kress, novelist
I haven’t thought of that, but I think I’m going to try it. Or online Mahjong. One reason I believe it’s a good idea is because it has NOTHING to do with words or writing and it does not take a lot of strategy or any deep thinking. But, it does give the mind a break and I can see how it might be a good refresher.
What are some things YOU do when you are stuck for an idea?
Once you are unstuck, then you can work on the The 5 Ws
Here is a look at the 5 Ws as applied to a fictional story.
Who? Your main characters need to be memorable. It could be in their dialect, the way they dress, or in a quirky habit they have. Your readers also need a physical description. This doesn’t have to be given all at once, but it should be revealed early on. Don’t overload your story with too many characters, otherwise your readers may get them confused.
What? The plot of the story is important. In fact, with no plot, there is no story. There may be several subplots, but they all need to work together to bring your story to a firm conclusion.
When? When your story takes place is often set by the plot, especially if it’s historical fiction. Be sure all your other elements line up with your time period. The fashions, cars, technology, and other details must be accurate.
Where? If you have never been to the place where you set your story, you either need to plan a trip there or do some research. If it’s an imaginary place, you get to create it all, so be sure to give plenty of details.
Why? What motivates your character? Why does your character pick on little kids? Why is it important for your character to join the army? What makes your character a workaholic?
Answer these “W” questions before you start writing, then look at them a few times along the way. Have you answered them sufficiently? In that case, you are well on your way to great story!