Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block. We are warned that we all get it, that the solution is to, well, write. Put the words on the page, even if it feels like a slog. The advice often sounds as if writer’s block is like “the wall” in a marathon. By mile ten, most people have used their circulating blood sugar and have to dig into reserves in the liver. By mile twenty, “the wall,” the liver’s depleted, and we get into the ineffable, gauzy advice about reaching deeply into one’s self for the last 6.2 miles.

All of which makes sense for marathons. At least for the ones I did. I mention this because I came to a halt, a standstill, in my novel #5, which I’m calling Cyberstorm. I tried the forging ahead thing, and it didn’t work. It took me a while to realize that I needed to understand my characters and my plot ideas better than I did. Once I settled on some details I’d overlooked, the words began to flow again.

So much for similes.

Dialog vs. Narration

“Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue.”

One of the most common suggestions I get from my critique groups is to switch from narration to dialog or (rarely) vice versa. By letting characters speak, dialog injects emotion, personality, and movement, particularly if the words are in the character’s voice and fall trippingly on the tongue, as Hamlet instructed his players. But direct speech requires more space (and two or more people, unless one is writing internal monologue). Narrative stops the story while the author tells the reader stuff; however, narrative is efficient: a short paragraph of narrative can often get across information that would need several pages of conversation.

At least in most writing, dialog is the “Let’s do this ..” part of the story, and narrative is the “and here’s how it happened and why” part.

Not giving details speeds up the story and creates tension. Unfortunately, one of the thesaurus synonyms for tension is confusion anxiousness, and agitation.  Narrative is the train standing in the station, loading passengers. Dialog is the train moving out of the station toward its destination.

Those of you who have been with me for a while have surely noticed that I have written fewer posts in the recent past. Given pandemic restrictions for nearly two years, there should be more posts, right? I guess, without really analyzing it, I was following form. Pilgrimage was, after all, established to trace my learning cycle as a writer. Insights, at least large ones, have become fewer as I’ve progressed. So posts have become fewer. Sooo … I’m planning to broaden my focus a bit, and post a bit more often. If you have writing topics you’d like to discuss, shoot them to me.

And, as always, thanks for listening.