From my talk at the writing conference, troubleshooting five potential writing difficulties:
1. STARTING A NOVEL
Read STRUCTURING YOUR NOVEL by Meredith and Fitzgerald.
Read about fast and dirty first drafts in BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott.
Take a critique class.
Tell yourself it’s a practice novel.
Use this formula: This is about W who wants X more than anything in the world, but Y is in the way. As W does or doesn’t reach his goal, he learns Z.
Develop your main character in a short story first.
Brainstorm a hook.
Let theme evolve.
Read SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder.
Read STORY by Robert McKee.
Read Syd Field’s screenwriting books.
Outline other books.
Start with a large, hard-to-solve problem.
Have a big event (party, dance, etc.) at end of book that characters keep alluding to.
3. WRITE A DISTINCTIVE VOICE
Put your manuscript aside, and for every chapter write a page or two in diary format about what happens from protagonist's POV.
Tell, don’t show.
Use aspects of yourself in the protagonist.
4. AVOIDING THE EPISODIC
Protagonist must always have a plan.
Things that happen in prior chapters must lead to next chapter.
Outline both external action and character arc.
5. WHEN YOUR MANUSCRIPT MAKES YOU WANT TO VOMIT
Put it aside for awhile.
Get more feedback.
Use a different font or read it aloud.
Do exercises from writing books.
Have an idea folder for shiny new ideas.