I have a tip to share, from my own fun and exciting writing battles. So consider this a miniature Working Review, my apology for taking the month off.
So, I’ve spent yesterday and today dealing with a thorny problem in the future episode of HoC that I’m writing right now. It has to do with conflict and character background and structure. The short version, sans spoilers, is that I have a goal I want to accomplish, involving secrets to be revealed to the reader, but not to the characters. But I can’t (couldn’t) get it to come together. The scenes wouldn’t go anywhere and none of them linked to one another at all.
Then I got an email from a friend and an opportunity to tell someone else about my problem. And suddenly, I put two sentences next to each other and realized the inherent conflict between them. So my tip, such as it is, is to write letters. Emails. What have you. You don’t, I suppose, have to send them to anyone, but I recommend at least writing them with a reader in mind. The mind works differently when it is explaining things to itself than it does when explaining to another person.
Writing is a solitary career. Mostly, I love this about it. But it is a career that does not come with built-in colleagues. Yes, somewhere down the line, we may get agents and editors. But in the beginning, we just have ourselves. And, hopefully, friends. So the next time you are stuck in a story, explain your problem to a sympathetic friend (or just anyone you can hog tie long enough to have listen to you), but do it in writing. The shift in perspective may be just what you need to find the solution.