It happens to the best of us: we all reach a point in our writing when we hit a wall and can’t figure out how to write our characters out of a situation or we get bored with a scene and don’t know how to move it forward. We might sit for days, staring at the blinking cursor in a caffeine-induced haze, trying to figure out how the heck to get out of whatever we wrote ourselves into.
To be honest, I once sat at this point for months and had no idea where to go. I procrastinated by trying to fill in my back story, made a full outline, talked to my writing partner, imagined what it would be like to be one of my characters, etc. Basically, anything I could do to avoid working through the Dreaded Scene is exactly what I did.
Every time I sat down to write, I wanted to throw my manuscript across the room. Sure, I tried reading things about how to write yourself out of tough situations or get through writer’s block, but nothing helped. I started to think that the Dreaded Scene was going to be the death of the story and that maybe I should just let it go and move on to something else. The problem was, it was a really good story idea, and I couldn’t simply let it go. The characters had grown on me. I’d gotten to know them too well, and I was even developing a slight crush on my male protagonist.
I finally made myself sit down with my story outline to figure out what the problem was. For me, it turned out that one of my protagonists had zero motivation for doing what she did, and I couldn’t move on because she had nowhere to go. Once I figured out the real reasons for her actions, my writer’s block cleared up immediately and I was able to move the Dreaded Scene forward and finish the chapter. In fact, that scene is now one of my favorites because it plants a seed for something that propels the characters through the rest of the story.
If you discover you’re in a similar situation, try sitting down with your characters and figuring out what’s really blocking their way. You might just find that your Dreaded Scene becomes the gateway to the real story you tell.