I was smack dab in the middle of the first draft of my first full-length cozy mystery when I fell into a rut. This wasn’t an “I’ll be over here playing Candy Crush for a few days” kind of rut. This was an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up and I’ll be over here until someone comes along with a crowbar to wedge me from this space” kind of rut.
Everywhere I looked, there were problems. The writing seemed stilted. The characters felt flat. And the plot? Boring with a capital “B”. Every time I opened the file, I groaned and closed it again. I went on like this for a couple of weeks.
Then I was driving home from my shift at our community center’s local volunteer-run library. It was pouring down rain and my oldest son, who is 18 and also a member of my writing group, was with me. As it usually does, our conversation turned to writing and our current projects.
I rounded a corner and the headlights of my truck swept over a cluster of rocky brush at the edge of the woods bordering the road. For a split second, it looked like a body lying there in the rain. Suddenly, I had an idea. And this idea led to so many other ideas.
- What if it was raining during the opening scene of my book?
- What if it rained that entire weekend?
- What if the body was found in the rain?
- What if the rain washed away some of the evidence?
- What if…?
The ideas rained down until they formed a stream of thought that spilled into the rut and, as a result, ejected me right out of it. I got home and started writing up a storm, making small tweaks that added up to big changes.
Now my characters have a reason to be excited. The story directs the plot. And I can’t wait to find out who killed off old…well, you’ll have to read it to find out!
What do you do when writer’s block hits? Are you likely to sit and wallow in it? Do you have any tried and true tips to share? Let’s discuss them in the comments section!