laptopw-3087585_1280Recently, as part of an anthology my writing groups is putting together, I had to write a short story of at least 2,000 words. I decided to make it crime fiction. The characters came to easily, but the plot … I had a problem with the plot.

Over the past few years, the only original writing I’ve done were blog posts and a few poems. Most of my fiction writing time has been consumed with editing my YA novel. Working out a logical plot for my short story was nothing less than painful, and I mean that literally. My stomach hurt of a week as I puzzled over the plot. It was almost impossible for me to focus on anything else.

When I finally found a resolution, I learned a few things about breaking my writer’s block for the plot.

  1. Beginning + End = Middle

I started writing my short story without an ending in mind, and that is a big problem for me. I had concocted an intriguing beginning, but once I wrote that down, I had no clue where I was heading. I must have a goal to work for. Whether it is a story or just a chapter, before I sit down to write, I need to know how I will begin and end. Without an ending, I stalled.

2. Find a Deeper Meaning

Once I put down the bare bones of my story, I found it empty. Just solving the crime wasn’t enough. I needed some deeper, more universal truth, something that went beyond the conventions of crime fiction.

3. Know Your Characters Like Your Best Friends

I am a character writer. I start a story because I discover characters I can’t wait to throw into dramatic situations.

For my short story, I was working with characters I had only known a few days, instead of years. This made me uncomfortable. But the longer I worked with them, gaining an understanding of their personalities, the more plot ideas sprang up. Through exploring my characters, I unearthed the deeper meaning my story needed.

What do you do to break writer’s block?