When thinking about stories, there are three key elements: character, setting and plot. In short, plot is how your character interacts with the setting and events.
I have a few specific characters I love from my novels, and upon getting ‘stuck’ in late-February, I took a step back to review what worked in my other stories. My beta-readers really like three particular ‘character pairs’ across three of my books, and when I analysed what was going well for those stories, the way the characters interact gave the novels depth I don’t feel the current work-in-progress has.
There isn’t a ‘wrong’ way to write, but I realised that having my main character have a few early scenes alone really misses out on the opportunity for the readers to see how she interacts with the world, what her views are and her depth as a human being. Putting another character, be that her best friend (a key motivator) or a villager chattering about the weather; these are the easiest places to dot both setting details, and show what a character actually cares about and values.
So I’ve re-visited my beat-sheet, and I’m adding in some scenes about missing socks and best friends worrying about the future; something not only to connect the reader to my main character, but also a bit of light relief for myself – so entrenched in needing to write this story, but actually forgetting to have fun with it at least some of the time.
When all else is failing, the characters are really what will pull a story through — we care about other people’s lives, and how others overcome challenges. This is the first place I look when I feel blocked.
If you’re experiencing a block with a story, it may be helpful to check if the story is about someone, not just something.