This book began as a personal project: a collection of questions mined from the far reaches of the internet and my brain to help work through some roadblocks in my own WIP. I hit the mid-plot doldrums HARD, and I needed to reorient. When you’re 50,000-words deep in, however, it can be hard to remember what you started off doing in the first place.
The good thing about a slump is it’s not a full-on block. It’s more like a… stall out. Most of the time, all it really takes to get moving again is restarting your car. Easier said than done, right? Lucky for you, I came up with a solution.
Work In Progress
When I’m stalled out, I like to think back to what events brought me to this moment in my story. I don’t go back and edit! We’re better than that, remember? I think back to what I wrote previously and ask myself why my characters landed where they did. What forces brought them there? What they’re trying to do while they’re there? Where are they trying to get to?
These open-ended questions and try to look at the project from a different angle. That way, I can make connections and jumpstart a few “ah-ha!” moments. Before I know it, I’m back on the road again. So I started accumulating a list of things to ask to more efficiently restarting that literary engine. I organized them, printed them out, and took the stack of paper to FedEx for binding. That was where I intended the project to die.
Problem was- I liked it. I liked it a lot. What I ended up with instead was the rough draft of Work In Progress, and I kept adding more questions and more questions until I lost track of how many there are. Inevitably, I had it fully bound, so I could share it with more stalled-out writers out there in the writerverse.
A Quick Breakdown
The final product ended up being 250 pages long, filled with questions targeted and organized to help guide you through the process and dig deeper into your story. The book itself is divided into three sections: drafting, genres, and story progression.
Section 1 is designed to get your story out of your head and onto the page. Each chapter focuses on one element to flesh out plot, protagonist, world-building, antagonist, and more.
Section 2 has questions targeted at specific genres. Many of these chapters might not apply to your story, but because so many novels have some degree of crossover, it’s helpful to visit each. In this section, you’ll find questions about romance, fantasy and magic, mystery, and historical subjects.
Section 3 is all about story progression. This section uses a beginning-middle-end structure for simplicity and the questions there are to help design out how your story will unfold. I like to visit each of these chapters as I reach those milestones in my writing. It helps me to reorient before I drift too far into the doldrums.
Skip around to your heart’s content! There’s no right way to do it. You shouldn’t know all the answers going in, and not every answer in there should find its way into your final product. The point is to get you thinking about those answers, sit them in the back of your head, and provide a broader sense of your world and characters as you write.
I use mine for 10-15 minutes every time I sit down to write. It helps to remind me where I left off, what I’m trying to do, and minimizes the amount of time I sit staring at a blank screen. Try it out for yourself and see! Available on Etsy here
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