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Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Author Insight: Problem Solving

When you hit a snag in your story,
how do you overcome it?

"It depends on why I'm snagged. Sometimes, I wrote myself into a dead end. That means I have to go back and fix whatever derailed the story. Sometimes I'm snagged because the particular scene is hard and I'm avoiding it. For that, I just have to get up the nerve and write it, however badly, and fix it later. Sometimes I'm snagged because I'm bored (exposition is my bane.) And for that, I just have to power through it and fix it later. Pretty much, no matter why I got stuck, the answer is brute force." - Saundra Mitchell, author of Shadowed Summer.

"It depends on what’s causing the snag. Sometimes it means I need to go deeper; sometimes I need to cut the scene altogether because what has snagged me is boredom; sometimes I need to back up because I’ve taken a wrong turn." - Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.

"I move away from the computer, try scrawling ideas on blank paper with a colorful pen. I babble and rage at my critique partners. I get in bed and pull the covers over my head with my music blaring through my earbuds. I go for a walk. I keep trying things until I figure out what's wrong." - Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic.

"Hot shower. I get more good ideas in the shower than anywhere else. Or baking!" - Lisa Mantchev, author of the Theater Illuminata series.

"I write. Then I write some more. And then I usually rewrite. In my eyes, the only way to fix something is to write through it. You can’t revise pages that don’t yet exist." - Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites.

"I usually skip it and go onto the next scene, until I can talk it out with my husband. He’s the best cure for writer’s block I have." - Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron King.

"Either I switch projects (because I always have other projects going on) or do something else creative: read, draw, listen to music, go to a museum, practice karate, something to get my head out of the "stuck space" and let my brain breathe. If I'm *really* desperate, I'll wash the dishes or take a shower. I find that some rote physical routines will often let me forget about higher thinking and let inspiration be a good, warm, soapy whallop up the head." - Dawn Metcalf, author of Skin & Bones.

"Sometimes I write or imagine extraneous scenes or other backstory for my characters. I may write letters between them or do journal entries to get inside their head a little." - Shauri Maurer, author of Change of Heart.

"Usually that means I took a wrong turn somewhere, and I go back and try to figure out where that is. It probably means some pages or scenes are going to have to be deleted, but that's how it goes. Writing can be a lot of - two steps forward, one step back." - Lisa Schroeder, author of Chasing Brooklyn.

"I step back for no more than a day and try to hear the story. To listen to where it needs to go. Then I force myself back to work, whether I'm ready or not. "- Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of the Sisters.

"Sadness, because angst very quickly becomes annoying to me! Sadness is, of course, a necessary element to every story, but because there is such a tendency in YA fiction to overindulge in angst, I tend to avoid it more than I probably should." - Riley Carney, author of The Fire Stone.

"I go for a walk, usually. I got in this habit years ago, though I’m not sure how. Whenever I feel like I’m stuck on a scene, and that I don’t want to simply skip it and move onto the next, I’ll take my iPod and try to work out the problem as I walk around my neighborhood. It usually means I’m walking around with my head in the clouds--but at least I’m getting exercise, right?" - Alexandra Bracken, author of Brightly Woven.

"I pull weeds and read a good book." - Bonnie Doerr, author of Island Sting.

"For me, snags are usually a result of boredom. If I’m bored with a scene, it’s usually because I haven’t created anything new or interesting for the character to feel. To make it emotionally interesting, I worsen the protagonist’s situation, move the scene backward or forward in time, or make sure I’m not putting the character in the same emotional situation as I have earlier on. Readjusting those things usually jump-starts me out of a rut." - Jessica Leader, author of Nice and Mean.

"I just write through it - usually dreck, but sometimes a miracle happens and it all works out." - Janet Fox, author of Faithful.

"I go write something else. A scene later on, a different book. Then I go back when I've figured out what to do." - Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy.

"For me I usually skip ahead and write a scene that I'm excited about. Sometimes writing out of sequence helps me stay focused on the big picture of the story." - Suzanne Young, author of The Naughty List.

Come back Tuesday to hear secrets about the authors books!


  1. Hey!

    It was really nice meeting you @ BEA this year!

    Just wanted to let you know that you won an award over @ my blog!


    congrats! :)

  2. this is great! i love know how authors' minds work and a bit of their writing process.

  3. I really like this feature. I'm glad I met you at BEA! I just love your blog. Hope to see you again next year.