Muse in Absentia? Cherry Pick for a Day

Novel writers will almost certainly hit a wall as they write a first draft. Instead of walking away from the book, or complaining that your Muse has taken an extended vacation, once in a while you might “cherry pick,” or write fun, exciting or tense scenes. I’m only recommending this for occasional use–too much cherry picking and suddenly you’re faced with writing all the less exciting connective scenes.
Writing Tip for Today: The weeks after Christmas are often rest up times. These are also the times when the Muse or inspiration can’t poke out of the season’s whirlwind activities and their aftermath. Here are some ideas for cherry picking, or writing the stuff in your story that’s weighted with the deepest emotions or consequences for your characters:

  • Get in touch with your theme. Write a scene (even if it doesn’t go into the novel) that reflects the overall theme of your novel. Let your protagonist speak to you from the heart.
  • Take your story to its most extreme conclusion. As you write this type of scene (again, probably not destined for the final manuscript), imagine the wildest, most far-fetched events and let your protagonist play it out. You may learn something about this character that otherwise might not have occurred to you.
  • Let your antagonist out of the box. Write a scene from your antagonist’s point of view.
  • Write the novel’s climax scene. This is likely to change as you continue to draft, but try it anyway.
  • Write the ending, then an alternate ending. Novels only have 5 possible endings: The character gets the goal and is happy; he/she doesn’t get the goal and is unhappy; the character doesn’t get the goal and is happy, doesn’t get the goal and is unhappy; and gets or doesn’t get the goal and couldn’t care less.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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