That’s the way that 15+ short stories I currently have in the works end.
It can be frustrating, but you know how it goes: You come up with a couple of decent characters and a setting that sounds interesting and then throw them together and see what happens. Sometimes this works, but a lot of the times it ends badly, or might not even end at all.
It usually starts off pretty well; there’s some silly dialogue, maybe a hot action scene and then just when things start getting interesting–nothing.
I get stuck.
The good news is I think I’m finally starting to understand why this happens. You probably even noticed the problem as I typed it.
Decent characters and an interesting setting might lay the foundation for the story, but they are not the story.
I guess I already knew that, but I had never really said it out loud before. So I looked at the list of my finished stories, both published and unpublished and realized that in most cases, I started them with at least some kind of idea of where the story would go. I didn’t necessarily have an ending in mind, but I did have a firm grasp of the main conflict and theme.
I can’t say that about the stories that I’m struggling with. What happens more often than not is that I end up putting out a few pages setting up…something, but then the something never happens. I either run into a wall and can’t figure out what that something is, or I try to insert some sort of plot or conflict that just ends up boring or contrived. (Kind of like the final season of Lost.)
One thing to do when this happens is to put away the story and work on something else. I’m a firm believer in the subconscious and I think that by simply keeping the story in the back of your mind, you’ll figure out where you want to take it. The answer might come in an “aha! moment,” a causal thought, or even a dream.
The most important thing, however, is that if you find yourself “stuck” on a story, don’t waste any time on it until you figure out just what it is exactly you want to do with it.
What about you? Leave a comment and share some of your writing roadblocks!