Cleaning the Blender

I mentioned that I was having trouble with the chapter I am currently working in the second book of my fantasy series The Peaceful, Brave, and Just. (Like PB&J, no?) I have been hitting it hard this week, and today is the ninth day of work for me, although I did skip one blog entry.

I hate the idea of writer’s block. I like to imagine that I don’t experience it. My solution to avoid it is to draft copy in which I just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Whatever comes into my head, that is what I type, with the idea that I’ll go and clean it up later, many times, until the goodness comes out. Sort of like polishing copper.

The upshot of this is, I now have a complete chapter that’s thirty pages long. It needs to be about ten, and it will probably end up around seventeen when all is said and done. That’s great because in that thirty pages there has to be some gold. Of course, I have to dispose of the chaff. A lot of chaff.

Last night at work, while I was cleaning sticky strawberries off the blender, I had a revelation about what I need to do. See, in this chapter my character is climbing some stairs, thinking about how he’s arrived where he is, and wondering where he’s going to go next. Metaphorically, of course. I have him remembering past events in his life. The problem with that is a lot of what I typed out is in the form of flashbacks, and flashbacks are exposition, and exposition is boring.

Never fear, while I was cleaning the blender I came up with the solution that is going to help this story progress. That solution is this. I have my character remembering a conversation he had with two friends who are at the top of the stairs, and in this conversation he examines a decision about his future. What’s going to happen now, he’s going to climb to the top of the stairs, he’s going to visit with them, we’re going to have the actual conversation, and he’s going to tell them what happened in his memory that’s also pertinent to his decision. Then he’s going to make the decision. So instead of everything happening passively, it will happen actively. This makes it more interesting to the reader and also allows me the opportunity to communicate my ideas in conversation between characters, thereby removing a lot of boring exposition–hopefully twenty pages worth.

My point is, when something is slowing me down in writing, I don’t try to tackle it with the perfect solution. I make a mess, and then I think about ways to change my perspective that will help the story. Try it! It works. All you have to do is clean the blender.

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