By Emily Chance
I couldn’t count the times that I decided, “hey, I want to write a short story or maybe even a book!” and I sit down at my laptop and open up a blank document. As I stare at the curser, every idea I’ve ever had about writing disappears in .35 seconds. Or worse, I get an idea, and I can’t figure out where to go from a certain point, and I end up killing off the main character or someone vital to the story line, and have to end the story at their deaths. Here is a list of ideas that I’ve found that help in these extreme cases of writer’s block!
1. Unreliable narrator. An unreliable narrator is someone the audience cannot fully trust or doesn’t tell the full story. A master of this technique is Edgar Allen Poe. While writing A Telltale Heart, he wrote it from the perspective of a mentally ill man who is unable to control his impulses. If you haven’t read this short story by Poe, I highly recommend it. I have found that by writing from an unreliable narrator’s perspective, you can craft many ideas you want to write about in one story. If you kill off a character and decide you shouldn’t have done that, you can say, “sorry, what actually happened was…” Examples of unreliable narrators are: mentally ill, compulsive liars, or someone biased in “their side” of what “really” happened in a dispute.
2. Continuation of the story. If you kill off your characters, you can still continue the story! After all, a popular topic that many are interested in is life after death. If you kill off the main character, you can give readers your own spin of the afterlife. Are they transported to another place? Another life? Are they stuck screaming at the people in their lives with a feeling of desperation of needing to be heard?
3. Start with the character’s death. If you wish to write a story about a character and you end up killing them, you can always start with their death and then work backwards so the person who died retells the events leading up to their death. A book which has an idea similar to this is Sara Shepard’s The Lying Game. The television series adaption has absolutely nothing on the book series. This book series is one of my personal favorites.
While writer’s block is no joke, there are still several ways to bypass the issue. If worst comes to worst, you can always write about a writer who has writer’s block (I used this very subject when I had to write a sonnet in high school. I considered it one of my greatest works). If you are still having issues with writer’s block, then you can go take a walk, go get some ice cream, or procrastinate some more while angrily staring at the screen.
Edited by: Kristina Drendel