Writers Write All: Writer’s Block

Displaying Liza4-214x300.jpgLiza married the guy who literally swept her off her feet at a Spyro Gyra concert. Their love story can be found on her “About” page. Besides being a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, she is a readaholic, a romantic, and a lover of nature, crazy socks, and rooftops.

Unique “job” experiences: Liza spent a summer selling popcorn in a Koepsell’s popcorn wagon while listening to awesome music on the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee. She also knows her way around a fender and a quarter panel and under the hood of a car. She spent a few years driving to accident scenes, scrapyards, hospitals, auto repair shops as a claims adjuster for an insurance company.

Hello? is her debut YA novel. She also has had two adult non-fiction books published, as well as stories and articles in various publications. A graduate of UW-Madison with a degree in Education, Liza is also the mother of two young adult sons.

Where to find more of Liza:

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One HELLO can change a life. One HELLO can save a life.

Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma’s death.
Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.
Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.
Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.
Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.

Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens’ stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.

Told from all five viewpoints: narration (Tricia), narration (Emerson), free verse poetry (Angie), screenplay format (Brenda), narration and drawings (Brian).

Writer’s block.

You’re stuck.
You’re out of ideas or don’t know what to write about.
You have ideas, but don’t know what to do with them.
You need answers to questions, questions you might not even be aware of.

There are thousands of posts on writer’s block and many different ways to deal with it. But if you found this post, I hope my technique will be helpful to you. 🙂

1. Ask questions.

2. STOP and listen to your characters. Go for a walk or sit in a chair and talk to your characters as if they’re real. Pretend to have a conversation with them. Interview your characters.

Questions you can ask yourself:

1. If you had a chance to travel anywhere, where would it be? If it’s imaginary, what would it look like?

2. Is there a bigger issue behind the writer’s block? Lack of confidence? Fear of not being perfect? Too critical of self? Spending too much time editing when you should be focused on getting the story down, even if it’s crappy? Are you afraid others will be critical of your work, so you’re struggling? Is it too personal, so you’re afraid to reveal something?

3. Is there someone you could use as a model for this character? Someone you know personally.

4. Are you struggling with description? If so, close your eyes and imagine the space, the person, the event.

5. Is there a moment in history you’re interested in or a person who you find fascinating? If so, do some research about the event or the person. Ideas may come from what interests you!

Questions to ask your character(s).

1. What is your biggest secret?

2. Why don’t you want to talk about it?

3. What are you afraid of the most?

4. How to you want this part of story to unfold?

5. Who do you want to be in this scene with you?

6. Where do you want to go?

With the ending of HELLO?, I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen. For several weeks, I tried writing it in the way I had envisioned. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I typed and deleted different variations based on what I THOUGHT should happen. Frustration grew. Finally, I stopped, sat quietly and asked Emerson. It was so different from what I had in my mind!!!!! And it’s exactly how I wrote it in the novel. I love the ending. The last paragraph! The last word!!!!! I smile every time I see it.

Part of the writing process is asking your characters questions, interviewing them as if they’re real. A writer needs to get into the “head” of their characters, know their secrets, fears, hopes, traumas, hurts, pet peeves, relationships with family and friends. At first, they start out as strangers or new acquaintances. But as time goes on, they become your closest friends. As the writer, you build a relationship with them. Interviewing is one of my best tools. I bet you’ll be surprised by some of the answers. I certainly have been.



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