Friday, July 15, 2011

Fictional Research

  I love the freedom of writing contemporary fiction. I create character's lives, their locations, and their situations. They can be based on a totally made up person or a combination of several people I have known. I can make them as good as I want or truly bad to the bone. However, sometimes that freedom to dream up a situation or family can leave me with writer's block. It happened to me yesterday.
  I am in the middle of the first draft of my fourth children's novel--none published yet but still writing, submitting, writing, submitting... My fellow writers know the drill. 
  Over the last week, my typing fingers have been a blur. I was IN THE ZONE. It seemed the story had taken on a life of its own and I was just the vehicle. I even assured a writing friend of mine that I would absolutely have the number of pages to match the temperature by today. Our temps have been well over 100 degrees all week. 
  Then at page 86, it stopped.
  I've learned through my previous novels that a story has to be more than a character, more than a situation. You don't have to know everything before you start but you need to have a pretty good idea what the climax will be and how the main conflict will be resolved. I know those things. I used my plot mountain chart, I  used post-its to visually see the chapters and I've used sticky tags on the side of those notes to show where specific elements have appeared in the plot. HOWEVER, I seemed to ignore the fact that I have several short stories within my tale that have to be told
  I brought my protagonist through a tension filled scene, placed her in a frightening situation, then I sat with my hands poised on the home row of keys and...nothing.  
  After an hour or so of pretending I had an idea, erasing it, putting in laundry, checking my email, my answer was RESEARCH. 
  Don't you love how you can find the answer to just about any question by doing an Internet search? No, I didn't find several short stories that fit my plot but I did read about similar situations and those stories stimulated my creative juices enough to push me through. I didn't get as far as I hoped by today but I'm in the 90's--if only our temperatures would dip that low, I'd be really happy.
  Fictional research--give it a try the next time your story comes to a standstill. 



  1. Helen, you are so right. Fictional research is so much fun. And you still get to lie. I mean make things up.