From the Vault – The Writer’s Circle: Issue 1: "Writer’s Block" (6/’09)

Our new series “From the Vault” will showcase select articles from my supremely popular “Writer’s Circle” discussions. The goal is to help educate you on some things to help make your writing better. After the select articles are done, i’ll be doing some more Writer’s Circle discussions to bolster the already large library of articles. please enjoy!

So begins the first session of Writer’s Circle! This first weeks discussion will be on a topic that I’m sure has effected many of you in the past, and may even be bothering you right now! Its “writer’s block.”

I was browsing the pages of this months “The Writer” magazine and I stumbled upon this little letter to the editor. It pertains to the existence (or in this guys opinion, lack thereof) of the condition “writer’s block.” Here is what the letter says:

Originally Posted by Andrew Davis in “the Writer” July 2009 issue
Writer’s block

With all due respect to Lois Duncan [“5 ways to break writer's block,” April], There’s no such thing as writer’s block, and writers need to stop using this misleading, warn-out phrase.

If you are unable to write, it’s either because your characters have nothing to say, do or think, or you simply don’t have a workable idea in the drawer.

Check your plot for action that demands your characters’ attention. Check your characters for a lack of motivation to act. And if you don’t have an idea, so what? Ideas worth writing about simply happen, and they will.

Stop claiming to have this mythical, exclusive “writer’s block” disease. The problem is in your story. And if you’re between projects, take your foot off the throttle. Where is it written that you must have an idea every day of the week? Writer’s block? I don’t think so.

And this is where I would like to open the discussion. What is your stance on the theory of writers block?

Personally, I don’t really think that it exists either. Don’t get me wrong, I do have bouts of time where I am seemingly unable to get anything accomplished, however, I do always manage to get something accomplished.

What are some possible ways of combating what could be known as writer’s block? Like the man wrote in the above letter, there is always the option of checking

…your plot for action that demands your characters’ attention.

you can also,

Check your character for a lack of motivation to act.

This is a great idea, if you are in the middle of a story you are working on!

But what if you aren’t currently working on a piece of fiction right now? What if you are between ‘publications’ yet you feel compelled to get something accomplished?

Here are a few things that I like to do if I am between stories and cant think of anything specific to write about.

1.I go over my existing characters. It seems to me that there is always something that needs elaboration or clarification. Whether it be their own personal background, or just some features about them like their height, weight, personality. There is usually something that I can do to make things more complete when it comes to my characters. Not only does it sometimes turn up possible avenues for my character to travel down, it helps me get a better handle on what my character is and isn’t capable of.

2.I check over my past stories for possible continuance. If there is one thing that helps me break the ‘writer’s block’ it’s this. Reviewing my past stories almost always helps me come up with something to write about. Take my first short story I did for example. When you read At the End of All Things, you will notice that Brother-Captain Vicarus wakes up after something significant has happened. What was it that happened? Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t that interested in writing a background piece for that short story originally. I had initially intended it to just be some sort of amnesiac occurrence and then leave it at that. There was to be no background stories at all. But what do you know, I was struck with what could be called ‘writer’s block’ one day and decided to have a look over the story once again. There were a couple of things that stood out when I read it again, and coming to my senses, I decided to start writing a background for Brother Vicarus. Of course, I did continue on with the story after At the End of All Things. I’ve written and posted the Prologue and Chapter One of my new novel, The Ghost of Iron here on Heresy-Online since then. You can find them under the link in my signature called “the Lair of the FAN FICTION KING!” So you can see, checking over your pasts stories can be a great way to find things to write about.

3.Pick up the nearest Codex! Heaven knows, if you are looking for story ideas pertaining to the 40k universe, your nearest Codex will have plenty of them. And if you’ve done any 40k gaming in the past, you’ll have a copy. Doesn’t matter which edition really. If you’re looking for something to write about, most have the same races involved. Some of the older ones have different looks about them, but generally from a fictional standpoint they are the same (basically). Check through the different race sections, especially in the rulebooks. There are plenty of special character sections that talk about how characters act, their history, some background fluff, and even some notable campaigns. Lets take a look at the newest 5th edition rulebook for an example. Page 126-129 will find you with a time-line describing ‘The Time of Ending.’ There are quips about events happening all throughout the time frame, from 744.M41 all the way to 995999.M41, each bearing a little text about what happened on those notable dates. Look here for example.

Tau fleet units strike at the shrine world of Ghola’s Hope.

Lets look at this for a second… All this thing talks about is the Tau attacking the planet…WOW! Obviously there is much more that we can do with this.

For example, what Sept has attacked Ghola’s Hope? Who was there to defend it? Were the Imperial Guard involved? What type of planet (what it looks like) is it? Were Space Marines involved? Was the attack repelled? Did the planet fall? What was the battle like? Was it just a space fleet battle? Imperial Navy? A Battle-Barge? WHAT!? As you can see, there are many things that are left unsaid with this passage. Use this to your advantage! It can be a really good idea starter. The basics are already laid out in front of you by those who wrote the codex, now all you need to do is write the story behind it! Which brings me to my next tip…

4.Create some new characters! Now that I’m in the mood to start a new story, the characters have to come next. I went to local library (of which I am an employee) and borrowed a copy of ‘The Writer’s Digest’ Character Naming Sourcebook second edition, by: Sherrilyn Kenyon. You should check it out sometime and possibly buy it. It is a fantastic book with 486 pages of names from many different cultures. I never have a hard time picking out names to use as characters. Each name puts a different picture in my head right away. I jot down the name, signifying whether or not it is a male or female character, and then move on to find more. This really gives me a good running list of characters to work with whenever I am in need when writing a story. And it also helps if you refer back to my first tip #1, “Review your existing characters.”

Hopefully this post has been of some help to you all. It has been a blast putting this together for everyone! Please let me know what you think about it.

David Ploss

I’m a bit of an awesome person. :) I’m a semi-famous 40k Intellect and the Business Manager of Chique Geek Entertainment, LLC. I’m a book reviewer and the owner of Beware my wonky-ness…


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