Writing Advice: Change It Up

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This week’s piece of advice comes from the ever-wise Margaret Atwood and her list of writing rules on Brainpickings. She had some great advice last week, so I thought we’d return to her once again. This time the advice pertains to being stuck in a story. Being stuck can be the worst thing in the world for a writer. I’m not talking about writer’s block, though, I’m talking about when you’re writing a piece and can’t seem to find the next direction. Sometimes your story will reach a stand-still and it might seem like there is nowhere new for your character to turn. It can be tempting, at this juncture, to simply sit and wait for inspiration to hit you. But that’s not what Margaret Atwood advises! Here’s what she has to say:

Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

Change, change, change. No matter what that means for your story, make sure that you change rather than remain stagnant. The way forward does not always mean taking the straight and narrow or doing something predictable. This is true in life and it’s also true in writing. Change things up. Place a gun in your character’s handbag. Give your character a secret identity. Give them a secret that they’re trying to hide. Whatever it is, change it up to make it fresh and to, hopefully, keep on moving forward with your writing.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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