What To Do When Your Mystery Novel Gets Stuck [Mystery Month]

I talk about outlining all the time, but even I don’t outline for everything.

For the past two years, I’ve written a four- or five-part mystery short story for Short Story Sunday using George and Lilah as the protagonists. I’d get a random title in mind and a plot would spark from there.

That didn’t happen this year.

I’ve been writing this month’s mystery short story as the month went on. I easily wrote the first part and second part, but then I got stuck.

What to do when you get stuck writing a mystery novel

It’s always such a pain when you get stuck on any story, but when you get stuck on a mystery plot, it’s tough to get yourself out of it. Everything has to be pieced together and make sense. When you don’t know what’s going on, it’s hard to tie it all together.

So, what do you do?

1. Reread what you previously wrote

I know there are people out there who say not to reread what you wrote the day before. I don’t understand why, but I think it helps to reread it. It reminds me where I left off and what I already talked about. Especially when writing mystery, you have to remember what clues the characters had already found and such.

2. Ask, “What If?

If you’re unsure of where to go next ask yourself, “What if this happened…?” New ideas will surely arrive, no matter how far fetched they seem. Still, you can take what you already wrote and rewrite something or use what you already have to create something brand new.

3. Take a step back and outline what you can

Yes, I’m bringing outlining back. No, I’m not telling you to outline your whole story. However, there are certain questions you can ask yourself. If you can answer them, great. Then you can figure out what to do next in your story.

4. Take a break

Step away from the story and let your mind rest. That’s all there is to it. When you get back to it, new ideas might arise for you.

5. Work on something else

I guess this goes along with “take a break,” but you can always work on something else. You’ll be writing, but you’ll be taking a break from your original story.

Getting stuck on your writing is never fun, but there are plenty of was to get out of it and keep going.

Want to check out a great post on writer’s block? Check out this post by Jerry Jenkins!

What do you do when you get stuck on your writing? Let me know in the comments below!

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FAQs On Writers Block

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Via Google

What is writer’s block?

Writer’s block is “a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work” (Dictionary.com). But we all know what writer’s block is, right? It’s an annoying wall that builds itself brick by brick and before you know it, you’re stuck. There are no doors, no windows. Your characters and plot are on one side and you’re stuck on the other.

When does writer’s block occur?

Whenever you close your mind.

Why does writer’s block occur?

Writer’s block can come from anything: lack of motivation, lack of inspiration, lack of time, etc. Sometimes you just get into a funk and say to yourself, “I don’t feel like writing today.” You don’t have the motivation to sit at your computer for a couple of hours and type up of a few pages. Maybe your characters are no longer speaking to you (did you kill off anyone lately?), thus no inspiration is coming in. Sometimes we lose track of time. There are dishes to be done, you have to go to your day job, maybe you have to sleep… there are so many reasons.

How do I get rid of writer’s block?

That’s easy! Force your characters to talk to you, find a way around that wall–break it down if you have to. Make time, not excuses. Open a blank page on the computer or in a notebook and just write about anything. What did you have for breakfast that morning? What is your favorite color and why? What’s a funny story that happened to you in the past week? Write about how one of your co-workers may secretly be a superhero. The possibilities are endless.

Does writer’s block really exist or is it all in my head?

Of course it’s all in your head. We’re writers, aren’t we?

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Via Google

Further Reading:

13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block
How to Overcome Writer’s Block: 14 Tricks that Work
4 Ways Inspiration Helps You Beat Writer’s Block

So Many Snow Days!

For the second Monday in a row, I had another snow day from work. This is our fifth snow day in… four weeks? We’ve gotten a lot of snow in such a short amount of time. Today we got another two feet or so. I’m losing track of how much is out there, but it has to be at least a good five or six feet total from all the snow in the past couple of weeks. It’s been so bitterly cold that even when it’s not snowing, the snow isn’t melting; it’s just turning to ice.

I don’t mind snow days, though. Everyone is sick of them at this point and they’re all angry with Mother Nature, but I don’t care. Sure, I may have to make up the days at the end of the school year and I don’t get paid for snow days, but I get a lot done during these days.

I have been so stuck on my writing lately, it’s ridiculous. For the past week I haven’t been writing anything. I’ve either been doing homework (which is at least something productive) or I’ve been playing video games or watching TV. I’ve had the motivation to write, but I just don’t know what to write. It’s quite the dilemma.

I’m still working on Detective Florence, but I think I need a bit of a vacation from it. If I don’t take a break, I’ll burn myself out from the characters and plot and then it will never get done. What am I supposed to do while I take a break from that, though? I’ve been thinking of writing some short stories or maybe trying my hand at some poetry. I’ve been looking at different magazines and contests to submit to, but my state of mind remains the same: I want written, not writing.

Needless to say, I did nothing all weekend. I babysat Friday night and didn’t even do anything while the kids were in bed… I brought two books with me and didn’t read either of them. I sat on their couch like a lump. Saturday Kris and I didn’t even go to Barnes and Noble because I was too tired. I don’t know why, but I was completely wiped out. We decided to write from home, but neither one of us did… we played video games instead. We didn’t do anything yesterday, either. It was snowing so we didn’t even go to church. Again, I watched TV and played video games.

Today, taking advantage that I’m home, I decided to be productive. I actually typed up ten more pages of Detective Florence 2 so that’s something. I’ve also gotten a lot of homework done.

I wanted to go back and forth between writing ten pages, doing some homework, write another ten pages, so more homework, and so on. However, I got caught up in my homework (because my classes have been giving very little homework this semester) that I decided to get it all done today.

Three of my classes start the week on Monday while my other class starts the week on Tuesday. So I only have my assignments for three of my classes so far this week and I’ve finished my homework for all three, except my Spanish quiz because my professor didn’t post that yet for some reason… I’m assuming she forgot because that’s what usually happens.

I’ve also gotten a small head start on the homework for my fourth class because I already know what reading she’s going to assign. So I can make a small dent in that tomorrow, but I can finish the rest of the assignments tomorrow. Then I’ll be homework-free for the rest of the week!

I’m hoping I’ll spend that extra time writing… whether it’s Detective Florence or something else.

How was your weekend?

New Idea

By the title of this post alone you’re probably groaning saying, “she changed her mind again…?” Yes, I did change my mind again!

Kris and I were discussing writing last night as she filled up a notebook and I… haven’t written anything in a while. So, we were discussing the upcoming NaNo session, writing in general, publishing, etc. This is what I explained to Kris:

I decided to write a novel that was a brand new idea about two college students and writing. I’ve realized whenever I get stuck on my writing I end up writing about writing. Yet if it beats the writer’s block, then why not? The thing is, I’m not really all that into the idea anymore. I still like the idea and will keep it in mind in case I ever want to try it again.

However, I had to read the first half of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien for school this week. I read it in two days and now I’m back on a fantasy high. So I thought of writing Saving Time. There are two things wrong with that. One, it’s the kind of story that needs to be outlined. I have many ideas for it and there are a lot of characters and places in the story. It’s not something I can free write or else editing will be a pain and I’ll most likely lose the main idea. Two, I started it in a notebook and I would like to finish it in my notebook. If for whatever reason I can’t get to a computer, I can still work on a novel. I know some people hand write for NaNo and I love that; kudos to all of you, but I don’t have the time to hand write 50,000 words and then type those 50,000 words to validate it. I might as well sit at my computer and bang out 100,000 words if I can. So, Saving Time is out.

The first draft of my story chapter is due next week for my Fiction class. I’m going to submit the first chapter of Detective Florence. Of course, we all know I decided to take a break from that series and now that I have to focus on the one chapter I’m beginning to realize that I miss writing that series. I still have the third novel to write, but like Saving Time, it needs to be outlined. If I don’t outline it, I’ll be stuck and the series will lose its main idea. So that’s out.

You guys are probably thinking that I’m coming up with too many excuses, but trust me; I’m not good at pantsing. I free write every once in a while, but I need that outline for the most part; especially since I recently discovered a great way to outline that works for me.

So, what am I going to write? Kris and I were discussing my Short Story Sunday and then…

Eureka

I realized what I should write for NaNo. I should write short stories. That way I can write about anything I want, any genre I want. Plus, I think the variety of stories will help me get over my writer’s block. I haven’t been able to write in so long that it’s gotten to the point that my brain isn’t used to it anymore and I’m indecisive about it all.

Plus, it will certainly be interesting to see how well I do within a certain amount of pages/words. We all know I tend to babble on, so if an idea sparks it just might end up turning into a novella… but I think it would be cool to have a collection of short stories at the end of the month. It’s something different. It’ll be a nice change of pace for myself.

I’m excited about it whereas I wasn’t too thrilled with my old idea. So I think I have a better chance at winning now that my enthusiasm has come back.

Starbucks!

Coffee

 

 

So Kris and I decided that we were going to go to Barnes and Noble today and write. Yes, we have our office now at home, but we haven’t been to Barnes and Noble in a while. We thought we would go, say hi to the workers behind the Starbucks counter there, but…she ended up getting called into work. So we didn’t go.

We did end up going to Starbucks, though. Since she was closing, we thought we would get coffee and write in our office at home. She continued to edit her novel while I continued to write Inspiration Station.

The more I write that novel the more I realize that I have no idea what I’m doing. When I wrote Detective Florence, I outlined the first part of the novel and continued to outline as I wrote the rest in an attempt to making editing easier for me. I am not outlining Inspiration Station and I never planned on it because this was something I began to write when I had a slight writer’s block. I didn’t expect it to turn into an actual novel. I was still able to write 5,096 words for it, though.

I also changed my schedule, you can see it on the To Do List. Even though I have a lot of free time without work and school, writing 5,000 words a day and editing takes a lot out of someone. So I decided that I’m going to write 5,000 words a day Monday-Thursday and edit Friday-Saturday and relax on Sunday. I can write/edit if I feel like it, but I’m not obligated to do anything. This will be helpful for when school does start back up again (in about a week and a half) and I can do the bulk of my homework on Sunday. Not ideal, but whatever.

So, since tomorrow is Friday that means I’m going to edit. I’m hoping to edit a lot as I would love to self-publish this novella by the end of 2014…wish me luck!