Writer's Tool Box

The patient’s flat-lining. Conflict—STAT!

NaNoWriMo. Sounds great for some. But the courtship is over. The thrill—disgusting word—is gone. No write-in, no word-sprint can revive the magic. The patient is bleeding out and pulling the plug is the only mercy.

The daily pain is too fresh, too real, too stark a reminder of all that we writer’s did…and failed to do.

That’s surely true for me. At least in the feelings department. I bit the conflict cookie too early, scarfing it up with no heed for the future. Even the crumbs are gone. I didn’t plot like I typically do. And now what?

Blank space. Nerves. Failure.

Even Boo, my treat addicted kitty, knows it’s over. She wants nothing more than to cuddle between me and my laptop. Mommy is 43,594 words into her WIP—I started early—and she’s burnt. Burnt and feeling like dumping the whole thing. Not just this WIP, but everything.

My NaNoWriMo book sucks. All my books, my efforts, etc., etc., it’s all wasted and—Wait a minute. Off my lap, cat.—I’m wallowing.

Truth is, I’m attempting to create conflict—hating on my work in real time—because the conflict in the book is flagging.

THAT’S the problem.

I’ve lost my focus. I’m not the patient. My WIP is.

Instead of creating conflict in my life—boo hoo, I’m a wreck—the fix for sagging NaNoWriMo spirits is a straight line shot of C. Injecting crises into your books, into your character’s lives—throwing in the dead body if need be will revive the patient. Not giving up writing. Not questioning your ability to put words on proverbial paper. If you’re anything like me, giving up scribbling will only lead to picking it back up again.

It’s a cycle.

I experience these lightbulb moments so often you’d think I’d leave the lights on. But I don’t so the nausea is always there, bubbling under the surface. Writing this blog is helping. Call it therapy. Call it whatever you’d like, but I’m taking the Pepto and doing what the doctor ordered.

Conflict. STAT.

So here’s a quick list of over-the-counter fixes for pernicious conflict anemia in your WIP.

CAUTION: Engaging said methods in real life will pose a hazard to your health and may lead to all manner of plot points for a memoir you may not live to write.

1)      Revisit your hero/heroine’s goals. Put that rabid Pro-X hero together with an anti-X, laid back heroine and you’re good to go. Compatibility may work best in real life romance, but it’s boring in a book.

2)      Throw up a roadblock—that mudslide can be part natural disaster with the underlying factors leading straight to your villain in the form of sabotaged safety protocols. But adding a forced-proximity trope to your romance is not a bad thing!

3)      Revisit your hero/heroine’s motivations. If Grandma Bunny confesses mid-book that she doesn’t want the money Uncle Joe stole from her, the hero/heroine must ask themselves why. Why will they keep pursuing the truth? Why would Bunny not care? Did she lie about Uncle Joe? Does Joe have something over Bunny? Or are Bunny and Joe old lovers with said revelation weighing over them all like a hot mess ready to explode?

4)      Throw in that dead body and/or false lead. The hero/heroine track down that psycho killer with blood on his hands—or hers—but the blood isn’t a match for the John Doe lying in the morgue. So now what? More conflict, more story. In a romance, a dead body can be a dead telephone line. He or she never called. Why? Tied up with other business or really tied up?

5)      Make the romance real. How many times in life have we counseled a friend who actively fought against their own happiness? Running headlong toward the wrong woman? Repeating the same cycle of passing up on a good thing? If that’s you, use it. Translated: Make the most of those blind spots. Don’t be nice. Romance is an exacting master who torments us before we get even the slightest hit of the good stuff.

6)      Introduce a new character. Someone who knows something about the hero/heroine that he or she doesn’t know about themselves…or hopes nobody would ever know. An old flame. A childhood frenemy. The truth always outs and in a novel that’s the juicy stuff of conflicts as heroes and heroines, no matter how well intended, seek to smother past sins.

So what are your fixes for sagging spirits or just being burned out? How do you keep the patient alive and make it to the NaNoWriMo finish line?

Please, let us know and always…


Write on!





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