With permission and review from Sceptile Frost, I've decided to contribute an article to this as well.
Overcoming Writer’s Block
How to get back on track with your fan fiction.
By Neo Pikachu
If you’ve written a story, then you know what Writer’s Block is, or what many consider to be the inability to continue writing a story. How Writer’s Block is caused can be depending on several elements with how the story was planned, or the author’s general feelings toward the story they’re writing.
The first way Writer’s Block could happen is from a lack of interest in the story. Generally, this could be the result of something distracting the author from adding more to the story they’ve already been writing. If the distraction is strong and captures the interest of the author more than writing the story, you could be looking at a story that will never make it to the end. Generally, its up to the author to decide if they really want to complete it, but if there is no interest, then chances are it will end there.
However, if the story dwells in the back of your mind, and you know you’d like to finish it, but at the moment you really don’t want to and the desire to do it just keeps prolonging itself, stop for a moment to consider why you started it in the first place. Then, open up the story again, and reread it. Recall the parts you enjoyed writing the most, and soon it may come back to you, and you’ll see why you wanted to write it. Also, tell yourself, “do I really want this story to just die right here?” No, of course you don’t. Also, if you still don’t completely
feel like adding to it right then and there, just try adding a single paragraph for the moment. It’s only three or four sentences, and it won’t take too long. And then tomorrow, again, just add another paragraph, even if its just description. Again, reread your favorite parts again, the ones that made you smile. Keep trying to add to it, and maybe little by little, you’ll get back into it, if not all at once.
Another type of Writer’s Block is just not knowing what to write next, even though you really want to continue the story. Generally, this could be the result of coming up with a really nice event you wanted the main character to go through, but now that you’ve written it down and have it done, you’re not sure what to write next. You know your general plotline, and you had the main character reach this point, but there’s a gap from one point you’re writing at and the next part you want to get into. It’s not a matter of coming to a wall, but more like coming to a trench that needs to be bridged over.
Think about what inspired you to start the fan fiction in the first place. Was it another story, a movie, a game, or something of that kind? Try revisiting that one element that got you started, and then try visiting a new element that’s similar to that in genre. Let’s say The Shining got you wanting to write a horror story where people are trapped in a building, and something strange is going on. However, you got stuck and you want something sick and dreadful to happen to a character, but you’re really not sure what you want to happen or the plotline got flawed along the way. Maybe give The Shining another watch, but in addition to that, supplement it with another horror movie, such as SAW, Hostel, or Hannibal Rising. Or use a different media, such as playing Resident Evil or Silent Hill for a different feel that could be approached within the genre. Maybe you got your setting situation inspired by The Shining, but watching SAW or one of those other movies or playing one of those games could bridge the gap, and give you a great idea of how you want to end one of your character’s lives in a gruesome way that will catch the reader’s attention. However, get inspired, don’t rip from what one movie has done or people could catch it. Change elements of it around, such as swapping weapons, changing locations, or the manner in how it was done. Also, using characters that wouldn’t be associated with the ones that appeared in the movie/game would also help.
A third type of Writer’s Block might have happened because you had one event happen, but you already posted it and regretted doing so when you would have liked something else to happen instead. Either that, or the predictability of it was too obvious, and someone else managed to get what you wanted to happen next, and now you’re heading smack dab into a cliché that’s going to inevitability turn off the attentions of your readers.
Stop and rethink things out, because it’s not too late and you could take a pit trap and turn it into a nice opportunity to catch your readers off guard and divert the story in a better direction. In these cases, there may be a way out:
PROBLEM #1: Too many characters, and a lack of desire to write about them all.
It’s happened, let’s say you got too carried away, and added too many characters. Now you have like twenty different characters still active all at the same time. Many of them have major roles or support roles that you need. Meanwhile, you’ve confused your reader into wondering which ones are really important, and which ones are filler.
SOLUTION: Love it or not, some of those characters need to be removed. If some of them have roles you still need to fill, have someone else take on the position when the first person leaves.
These characters can be removed in a few ways. Some can just be on a temporary basis, but then don’t forget about them later on. Or if you want to completely get rid of them, it has to be done slowly. Having seven of your characters die instantly would be too drastic. Instead, get the characters you want to have removed together, and throw in some of the ones you do want to keep as well. Maybe they decide to have a party, attend an event, or whatever that would need them to be all in the same location. Then, make something happen that can remove some instantly, upset/wound/greatly affect others, and then have survivors, ones that were only minimally affected. It could be a disease, an attack, or something dire that would cause some people to be removed instantly, others shortly after, and then maybe even a few that would experience removal over a long period of time. Maybe a bomb went off, and some characters were killed, others were critically wounded, and others were affected emotionally. Those that were affected emotionally could leave the story’s plot through depression or fear of experiencing something like that again.
It doesn’t even need to involve death either. Something could happen that completely demoralizes some of the characters from pursuing the goal they originally sought after. Let’s say you had a rebellion happening, but you have too many important characters in the rebellion. You could have some of them turncoat, be affected in ways that would cause them to hide back and avoid the goal, or others are caught, imprisoned, and are never heard of again.
PROBLEM #2: I had my main character get involved with something, but I really don’t want him to do it anymore or I wish I could take it back.
One of your characters did something or got themselves caught up with something, but now you’re wishing you didn’t make that happen.
SOLUTION: Reversal should be slow, and not too quick. Or, have your character make a mistake that changes things around. Maybe your character was sent on a mission during the story to help find someone. However, during the middle of writing the mission, you’re not that interested in doing it any more, and you’re beginning the feel its just wasting time. One way is to have the character find out something that drastically upsets the goal. The person they were looking for was no where to be found… because they did something to themselves that was far different that the person who sent them on the mission was thinking. Maybe a father looked toward the main character to help him find his son, but after writing it through and not wanting to proceed with the mission or trying to avoid a cliché, do something the reader wouldn’t suspect. Maybe that son was actually in the barn unlike his father thought, and chances are… he committed suicide by hanging himself over something that the father put him through. Or, maybe something happened to the son that immediately ends the mission, such as the main character finding them, but something is seriously wrong with them.
Amnesia isn’t always the best solution, since it has become a cliché over time. Main character goes on a mission, something strange happens, and then they wake up and don’t remember a thing. This had been done before, many times. Try to avoid it unless you have a very clever way to implement it.
PROBLEM #3: I can’t stand this plotline, I don’t like it any more but I’ve gone too far now.
You came out with a nice plotline in the beginning, but you’ve gotten sick of it over time, and it’s just not that you think it was cracked up to be. Or, you seemed to approach it in the wrong way, and now its just becoming more of a mess.
SOLUTION: I won’t deny this is a hard one to fix, and many have run into it before. Honestly, sometimes the best solution is to slowly but cleverly switch genres, even if its just for a little while. Take the story off the beaten track for a moment, if not completely.
First, rethink the plot and consider what you would like to happen now as opposed to what you would have like to happen back then. You changed your mind while writing it, and that’s okay. However, now have you a spot where you want to be, and where you currently are in the story. So, how to get from point A to point B?
Try to bridge the gap with coming up with possible routes the story could take to reach where you want to go. Let’s say you once though having your character go clinically insane and be locked up in a mental hospital, but now you’re sick of the idea and you just want them to get out, and get to the point where they become a mole for an evil syndicate you developed in the story.
You could have them get out on good behavior, but then you’re kicking up your time frame a bit. Maybe that’s okay with you, and writing out a few chapters of them coming up with the realization that their only way out is to recover, or at least make it look like they’re recovering. Maybe over time, they get some advice from a fellow detainee, and they talk their way out. But this could be months later. Or, they come up with a brilliant escape.
Now you have them back on the streets again, but the evil syndicate it still at large and you want them to become a mole. Now, you need to get rid of their history, and clean it out. They could pretend like they’ve known the syndicate their entire lives, or they could try to make believe that the character you have is one of their own through clever implementation.
In closing, a good mindset to take is to approach and attack the problem of Writer’s Block within the week you found yourself suddenly stopping with your writing. Any longer than that, and you begin to risk putting it aside and never going back to it. A few months would be hard, since you may have forgotten what you wanted to have happen, or you even forgot what happened in the story already. One week is good, but after two weeks, you're already risking losing the story completely. And honestly, it would be a shame if a story you once loved and enjoyed writing ended before you wanted it to.
Don’t be afraid to become the reader of your own story. Don’t be afraid to take an objective view, and pretend someone else wrote it. What parts did you like, or didn’t like? What do you like about the characters, or are there characters you get a little tired of reading about? Chances are that if you’re thinking it, others are thinking it as well, even though opinions are always subject to vary.