FROM THE SECOND-FLOOR #8
WRITER’S BLOCK Vs. SOURCE MATERIAL
Writer’s block can be deadly and even end a potential career.
Source material could also be toxic if the stories sought get fed improper information
What do the two have anything to do with one another? Everything.
Many writers set out and focus their material on one story. The source information highway can stop you cold when you learn it wasn’t true. Albeit driven to write about actual and current news or stories based on facts heard recently or years ago – source and effects are married together. If you learn your information is full of holes it can set you back on your heels. The block enters and you become baffled. Who can you trust? Where are the real facts?
You are not alone when a mental block stops you. The brain swims through a current of useless information, and none makes sense. You can’t put the pieces together. Your storyline becomes a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
At times, no story or outline you begin to write can find a path. Each journey takes off in directions you didn’t give a thought or even understand. You jumble up and stop writing. While you seek a different approach, a new story, the words fail you.
To provide the mental block with accurate food for the brain, you must search for new ideas. You get frustrated when none of them stick. You look down at your idle fingers resting on the keyboard and wonder if they will ever move again?
Source material is one answer that always works when given a chance. What exactly is the source material? It’s not just facts, but the thread you weave into a story that makes it readable. Where do you find the sources? You don’t have to look far. In most cases, they are right in front of you or just down the block. The corner store, local gas station or big box retailer has all the material you’ll need to move from a blank space into the world of storytelling.
An enormous part of the source is characters? Where on earth do you find new characters? That too has an easy answer. You live, work and are surrounded by characters. Most of us pay little attention to a co-worker or clerk at a store. Next time you go out, forget shopping and become a watcher. I love to go to the mall and watch. Roam through the shops and listen. Ask about a product and seek help from a salesperson. Amazing what a little conversation brings out.
Most of us have relatives, friends, neighbors and co-works so learn to draw information each one has to offer. We forget we’re one of a kind, as are the people we know or meet along the way. Each person you know is a character. Everybody has a unique one-of-a-kind personality with unusual traits, quirks, mannerisms, unique speech patterns, and background history. Draw from here to create your next character. Learn to take the basics and then add twists and habits. Bring in or take out the good and bad and then adopt a second look. Not bad if you do this seriously.
So how does source material help get you out of writer block mud?
Remember what got you there in the first place? You got stuck. Either the plot bogged down and went nowhere or your story had huge flaws. A story needs a life of its own, just like your characters. Did your story have a life? By that I mean did it have a before story? Did it just start or come from history of something terrible? Does it have an ending, not the one you end your story with – the ongoing ending that give your readers hope for more to come?
To help eliminate a blocked mind that many writers suffer, it helps while designing the creation to expand and outline the whole story. Start with a paragraph. It’s hard to do but very rewarding. Expand the paragraph on one or two pages. Stop here. You have story content, but now you need a list of characters. You have leads and sub leads, but what about the little character roles? You need a character list. Make one, even if you don’t use them all.
Now you have the idea of the story and a list of characters to generously place in and around the plot. What about the locations? Make a list. Where does the story begin? Where does it end? If your characters move around, where do they go? Stop. Do you know each location well? Have you been there? It’s easier to write about what you know. If you haven’t been there, you need research and source material with descriptions.
These are all essential writer tools. It sounds easy. It isn’t as it sounds. What it does do is activate your mind. It takes you away from the blockage. You go on a journey. Make the trip busy and fun and when you get all the pieces together – start writing again. This time you have focus, direction and desire.
When and if you write real stories, check your sources, and then double-check them. When you think you’ve got it all covered, do another check with an entirely new source. Don’t trust the news for any truth whatsoever. Sadly, all our news media sources are owned by four or five companies, and each has a goal or mission that may be selfish and not in your best interest. They establish the truth to fit their objectives and needs, and when you write a true story you may find huge holes in stories found from the news media. I’m amazed at how many people rely on the news media for news, and I try never to use truthful events the news media tells to stand on its own. Double or triple check everything you hear or read. Research is fun, entertaining and quite educational.
Here's what you have at the end of the day. You gathered source material, outlined your story, know your characters, where the story takes place, where it ends and what happens in the middle. If you get bogged down, go to your lists. Focus on material you worked very hard to gather and then turn back to the computer.
I was taught early on, listen, focus, and be aware of the story at all times. Every great novel or film has one thread in common, a sensational story. One of my best professors said it well – your work should be the story, story, and more story. If you tell it well, have a great beginning, a middle that can’t be put down, and an ending you drive your audience with urgency your work will be read and be successful.
How we reach, our audience is a mystery. We do the best we can, but this is a learning process. It’s ongoing and never ends. Each work is different and finds its gathering. We can hope to find a few who tell a few and soon your voice is read and heard by many. Even best-selling author’s struggle to find an audience for new work they write.
I wish all writers luck with their passion. A working writer deserves recognition. Promote your brothers and sisters of dare to share the word. Read unknown writers work. Learn from it and help promote them. They will return the favor.
I hope this helped – even if only one writer gets back on track and stays there I’ve done a job well done. Good luck all.
William Byron Hillman © 2015
NEW RELEASE – WITHIN AN INCH OF THE MOON – a romantic/suspense/contemporary fiction novel. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UT0V24E
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Rollie Kemp Novels
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056WR6I6
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056WR7YE
Bad Rap: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DNIHCYI
Hoax – Prematurely Terminated
In editor’s hands – Looting
Romance/Suspense – Contemporary Fiction
Within an Inch of the Moon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UT0V24E
Veronique and Murray: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0071F05MU
In development Veronique and Murray's Honeymoon
Doug Hamilton Mysteries
Let's Sue ‘Em http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009M9E790
(Over a Cup of Caramelized Chocolate – Completing Final Draft)
Dream Searcher http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EC19DJW
Motion Picture Stories
Zebra's Rock and Me http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004PL08LM
Quigley's Christmas Adventure http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ANVNQ6G
(Available in audio book soon)
My next feature film to direct is:
Quigley's Christmas Adventure(Sequel to the hit film Quigley)