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Writers Tips for Getting Unstuck

Sometimes a writer just gets stuck in the middle of a story. The potential causes are numerous, but most writers go through it. Getting unstuck is the goal. I’ve had plenty of experience getting stuck in the “middle slog” of a novel. These are a few things I’ve done.

Free Write

Writers Tips for Getting UnstuckSit down with paper (do this by hand if you can) and start writing about the story: plot, characters, locations, how you feel about it all. Keep writing until you have it all out. If nothing shifts right away, wait 24 hours, re-read your free write, and repeat if needed.

Forced Write

This is different from above only in that you are not allowed to stop your pen from moving or take time to contemplate. Set the timer (15 minutes is a good start) and don’t stop moving that pen until the timer goes off. This method works best for me if I’m having a conflict with the plot or the character and I have opposing morals.

Best And Worst

If stakes are a problem, take your main character aside and create two lists together. The first is a list of the best things that could happen to and for your character, including best outcome for the story. The second is a list of the worst that could happen to and for your MC. Use the latter to create stakes and hurdles. use the former to provide the relief moments, the desire, and the reward for overcoming it all.

Change Locations and Stress Scenes

If your characters have you stuck or remain uncooperative, surprise them. Take a character out of the setting of your story into something totally different (put the small town boy in Paris or the driven career woman at the mercy of a housebound elderly relative). Keep them in character and take notes on what they reveal. If the fish out of water scenario doesn’t do the trick, put your character in an extremely stressful situation and let them figure it out. In either method, the goal is to know your character better and to uncover both their secret fears and hopes.

Write Out of Order

If the scene is holding you back or you aren’t sure what happens next, skip it and write a scene further into the story. The advantages are that it gets words flowing and you can usually figure out what (if anything) must happen when you know where events are headed.Maybe it’s just a panster thing, but it helps me during the middle slog.


What’s your favorite way to get unstuck in your stories?

8 thoughts on “Writers Tips for Getting Unstuck

  1. I tend to use the forced write method and writing out of order. I hate getting stuck, and those are my usual go to methods. But I really like the idea of the best and worst, and I am going to give that a try with my last bits I have to finish!

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