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Blogging By the Sea
Saturday, August 19 2017

Our Round Robin Topic for August is - When you are stumped on moving a plot line forward, what do you do to reinvigorate your imagination and get your characters moving?

What a great topic – I am eager to read all the tricks and methods other authors use to get past a roadblock. I’m sure it’s far less of a problem for those who carefully plot out their whole book before they begin to write, but every time I try to plot or outline, I end up stalled before I even begin. I’m a true pantser. I like to create characters I know well and then throw the inciting incident at them and see what they do next. Unfortunately that often leads to me wondering – what next?

There are several options that I try. The first is to get out of my study and go for a walk. I take my characters and their situation with me. While I’m contemplating what next? I rehearse lengthy dialogs between them, picture all kinds of things happening to them. It doesn’t matter how far out or impossible the situations my imagination takes me to. Most of what goes through my mind might never end up in the book, but it nearly always sparks a thought that becomes a springboard for what next?

Another method is playing the “What If?” game. For example, I might have my hero and heroine sitting in a café with coffee steaming in front of them. They’ve been fighting and I’m not sure if this is where they make up or if they get up and go on their way with the problem unresolved. So I might ask myself, What if an old boy/girlfriend showed up with an embrace and a kiss? Or what if the guy hauls out his wallet to drop a bill on the table before he storms out and discovers he forgot his wallet or his wallet is empty? What if she starts to get up, catches her foot on the chair and falls? What if a cop shows up to question one of them about a crime? What if a little kid at the next table pops up with a grin on his face and tells them they should be nice to each other? What if the hero spills his coffee and the scalding liquid flows into the heroine’s lap? The What if’s are endless and none might be the answer, but just starting to ask the questions and considering all the possible outcomes to each usually breaks the dam and suddenly I know exactly where this argument is going and how the scene should end or the next scene begin.

Sometimes the roadblock needs for me to just go somewhere else and leave my characters in limbo while my brain takes a break. Go read a book, watch a movie, visit a friend, call family member for a chat. Then I come back to my story with a refreshed mind.

When all else fails, I take my problem to my brainstorming buddies. We call ourselves the Sandy Scribblers and we meet once a month to discuss our current works in progress. When I have a major roadblock, I present the situation to my group and the what if game turns into a badminton game with ideas bouncing off everyone, growing and multiplying. Sometimes the ideas aren’t workable, or don’t fit the characters, but most of the time several possibilities come home with me and I am re-energized and eager to get back to writing with a whole army of possibilities whirling in my brain.

When all of these options fail, I might sit back to wonder if I really had a story to begin with. Or were my characters as thoroughly thought out as they should have been? Have I missed something from the backstory that should have been there? Often I’ll find some piece to the larger picture that I’ve been ignoring and by focusing on it, the roadblock clears. What next? is the incorporation of that missing piece.

One other habit I have as a writer is that I don’t always write in a linear fashion. Sometimes I see whole scenes or hear dialogs that I know don’t belong where I am currently in the story, so while they are fresh and vibrant in my mind, I open another file I call Bits and Pieces and just start typing, getting the whole scene or dialog down and then save it for later. Sometimes when I hit a roadblock, I visit the Bits and Pieces file and read through these various scenes or snatches of scenes and miscellaneous ideas and sometimes one of them is exactly what I need in my manuscript. If I’ve just written a thought or idea, I return to the main manuscript and try writing it. If it’s a detailed scene, I copy and paste it, then work out how to connect all the dots. And sometimes when I am at a crossroads and can’t think where to go next, I open the Bits and Pieces file and start typing something new that might or might not end up in the story, but the process encourages me and often when I return to the main document I suddenly realize I do know what next?

Want to know what some of my author friends do when they hit a roadblock? Check them out.

Diane Bator 
A.J. Maguire  
Anne de Gruchy 
Victoria Chatham 
Marie Laval  
Judith Copek 
Dr. Bob Rich 
Helena Fairfax  
Fiona McGier 
Heather Haven 
Beverley Bateman 
Rhobin Courtright 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 12:02 am   |  Permalink   |  8 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 08 2017

My summer travels

Every year since I moved to St Augustine I’ve returned to New England for six weeks to visit family and catch up with old friends. For the past three years, three of those weeks have been spent on Bailey Island in Maine, in a cute little cottage overlooking the ocean at the northern edge of Casco Bay. The time there starts with a bang, quite literally, for Independence Day. I get to watch fireworks from my deck from towns and cities all along the coastline as well as a spectacular display over the cove right down the street. My son and his family were up for a few days and this year we took a side trip to Fort Popham which happens to have a lovely beach nearby. For those of you who think the Maine coast is all rocks and ledges, there are many lovely fine sand beaches and Popham is one of them. I had my annual feasts of lobster fresh from the icy waters of Maine when they are at their succulent best, and lunches of Maine Gulf shrimp, another treat I never get in Florida. It was a lovely, relaxing visit.

I returned to Massachusetts to take care of some of my dad’s business. He’s been in nursing care for the last year following a nasty fall and broken bones last July, and now is eligible for Medicaid, but that application process can be difficult so my sister and I consulted an advocate to help us get it right. It was also good to have time to visit with him and remember some of the good times we’ve had over the years.

Now I’m at the family place at Bow Lake in New Hampshire. We own a small island there which has a lot of charm . . . and a lot of drawbacks. No running water or phone, no hot showers and an outhouse, but it is all ours and we – my kids, my grandkids, my sister and her daughter and some of my inlaws all arrive here for one week each summer. Cousins get to spend time with each other, playing, swimming, boating, having sleepovers in each other’s tents and telling stories and making s’mores around a campfire every night. My children, close in heart, but separated by distance most of the year, get to enjoy each other’s company and talk about everything from kids to politics, to sports and work and life in general and somehow the fact that we all have to sleep in tents and treat the tiny camp like a clubhouse doesn’t matter so much. Every year there’s a theme to our week, usually a holiday we never get to enjoy together. We’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day with little red mailboxes by every tent and the kids had fun making and delivering their messages. We’ve had Easter egg hunts and dressed up and gone trick or treating at everyone’s tent, too. This year is April Fools. This morning I woke up to find it had snowed right in front of my tent and there were little snowmen, snowballs and duckies with woolen hats and scarves. Who knows what will happen the rest of the week.

Next week my summer journey will be over and I’ll head back to St Augustine. It will be good to be home once the long drive is over, but it’s always worth the trip. Family time always is. 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, August 01 2017

Trusting Will is ON SALE from August 1st to 15th - just 99¢ on all e-book platforms

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo   iBooks   Google Play

TRUSTING WILL Brianna is a war widow with no intention of falling for Will Cameron no matter how charming he is. He’s just another bigger-than-life hero who puts his life on the line every day. Loving him could break her heart all over again.  

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Iain's Plaid has been chosen to compete in the AllAuthor August Cover Contest - We'd love to have you pop on over and give it a vote:  https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/824/

Hope everyone is having a great summer - next week, I'll share some of my summer adventures with you. 

Posted by: Skye AT 11:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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    Skye Taylor
    St Augustine, Florida
    skye@skye-writer.com

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