Stuck in Your Story? It’s not Writer’s Block

man thinking at desk
man thinking at desk
When Writing Stops
You’re at some point in your story and all of a sudden you don’t know where to go next. If you stop writing, it’s notwriter’s block. You just don’t know where to go next with your story. You may feel as though you have written yourself into a corner with no way out. Or, you get bogged down with detail and loose narrative drive and focus.

Whatever the reason, your writing stops.

Here are some ways to kick your story back in gear.

5 Ways to Get Back In and Move the Story Forward

  1. Bridge to Next Story Event – Sometimes you are at one point in the story and don’t know how to get to the next part. Before you go to the next action, write a scene where the protagonist reflects on what has happened so far.  
  2. Character Arc Development – Now is a good time to look at the character arcs for all your main characters. Give one of your characters a problem (obstacle) to overcome. It doesn’t need to be big but reveal a growth step or realization for that character.
  3. The Corner – If you feel you’ve written yourself and your story into a corner, it’s time to brainstorm at least five other story paths. You may have to do some revision on the parts you have already written but you’ll get yourself and your story out of the corner.
  4. Detail Overload – Your story may be going nowhere because you are loading it with detail without action or response. Double check that your detail moves the story forward. If it doesn’t, cut it out and get to some dialogue or action.
  5. Story Structure – Sometimes you can spend time in a specific section of your story and loose the narrative drive. The story is lost because like the old adage of the trees and the forest; you see only the trees. Use a story structure to get back to moving the story forward. From Aristotle’s three acts to story beats take a look at where your story is now when you are stuck and get back to structure.​

And a McGuffin

I was working on a story and seemed to have nothing to say. I don’t believe inwriter’s block, so I knew something was wrong with the story. I remembered Alfred Hitchcock’s advice that every story needs a McGuffin (an object or device in a movie or a book that serves merely as a trigger for the plot). Once I found the McGuffin, the dialogue I was writing came to life, and the story moved. I saw how the McGuffin would trail through the story.

If you find yourself staring at a blank page not knowing what to write next, take a look at your story. Look for missing pieces and overall structure.

Zara Altair 
Zara Altair writes traditional mysteries set in the time of Ostrogoth Rule in Italy in The Argolicus Mysteries.


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