Writer’s block is painful. Everyone gets a form of it at some point, and most writers have ways of dealing with it. A frequent fix is to ‘just write anything’ until the feeling of being blocked passes.
I recently stumbled upon a new tip for dealing with writer’s block, and it’s working like magic; not just to free up a brain jam, but also as a way to build an effective and engaging narrative dripping with that magic ingredient, conflict.
Write the last line first.
I’ll give that a moment to sink in.
When you start a new story or chapter or scene, write the final line of dialogue before you get going (or when the block sets in). This means you spend the rest of your writing time working towards that outcome, shaping actions and words around creating this natural outcome.
The last line should either tie everything up in a nice bow or deliver a cliff-hanging incentive to read on.
‘And that’s why we should never have done it’ was the example handed down in a recent script-writing workshop. We set off writing dialogue, not knowing our characters, but knowing where we needed to end up. Keeping the outcome in our heads and having it so clearly defined influenced so much of what came before. Lo and behold, the writer’s block lifts.
Choosing something that would make the reader want to turn the page when creating your final line chapter ends helps give your narrative force. Think how you might write a scene or chapter in your work in progress that ends on any of the following:
- ‘What now?’ she said. ‘How the hell do we make this right?’
- ‘This is all your fault. I never want to see you again.’
- ‘She’s going to hit the roof when she sees it.’