10 Gremlins of Writers Block Doom a Good Story

Writing Novels That Sell with Adrienne deWolfe

Are you making progress toward your writing goals today?  Or have you fallen victim to one of these 10 nefarious Gremlins from the shadowy realm of Writer's Block?

1. Mind Muncher

This warty, pug-nosed menace chews up good inspiration and spits it out, claiming that your ideas suck, your writing sucks, your muse is a fraud, and you should be ashamed to turn on the computer.

Solution:  More coffee. 

Now that you’re pumped, write as fast as you can WITHOUT thinking.  That’s right: beat writer's block by practicing stream of consciousness writing.  Stop only when your fingertips are bleeding on the keyboard. 

Twelve hours (and 250 pages later,) you’ll be glad you stopped judging yourself.

2.  Backstory Stabber

This red-eyed specter is fond of wailing, “Go back! Write 20,000 words of made-up historical crap because every Fantasy novel needs a prologue with a gazillion incoherent names and meaningless dates!” 

If you’re writing the plot of a Romance novel, the Backstory Stabber might whisper, “Yes, yes, write the 40-page scene where the hero is walking along the beach and pondering his many childhood grievances.  Be sure to open your novel with this masterpiece!”

Solution:  Start writing Chapter 3.  (Surely your REAL story starts by Chapter 3?)

3. Grammar Gremlin
This chubby horned demon delights in assuring you that commas don’t matter when you're writing novels. The Grammar Gremlin also insists that correct spelling is only important to fuddy-duddies.

Solution:  Retrain your brain. You are writing novels now. The proper spelling of “great” is not “GR8.”  What happens on Twitter STAYS on Twitter. 

4. Sundowner

When you're writing novels, this sparkly fairy (with fangs) sits on the western edge of your monitor and croons about everlasting beauty. “Let’s write about the sunset! Let’s write about the seashore! Let’s write about the rainbow-bubbles in the fish tank!” 

Once the Sundowner has convinced you just how beautiful your prose is, she will prevail upon you to fill the first five pages of your novel with it – where, tragically, all that loveliness transmutes into the eyesore known as Purple Prose.

Solution:  When you open your novel, write from the viewpoint of the HERO or HEROINE.  Readers want to read about people, not sunsets. 

5. Dialogue Dementor

This pesky, fork-tongued demon will saturate your dialogue with dialect that no reader can possibly interpret – or worse, with a plethora of facts, written in stilted language.

Example 1:

“I eez Fransh, and I weesh to parlez-vous with yooze.”

Example 2:

“You know, Bob,” Johnny said to his twin brother, “Mom and Dad were married in 1942, in a little white church in Puget Sound, where they lived happily for the first six years of their marriage, until we were born in 1948.” 

(In the first place, Bob does know his family history, so why is dunderhead Johnny recounting the details?  In the second place: Seriously? Do you know anyone who talks in 36-word sentences?) 

Solution:  Resist the Dialogue Dementor at all costs!  Find another way to introduce the backstory, especially when you're planning how to start your novel.  And for pity’s sake, go light on the dialect.

6.  Head Hopper

This bug-eyed terror wants to confuse your readers by wrecking havoc on your prose. The universal champion of weak writing, the Head Hopper cleverly persuades you that your story would be much more interesting if you just switched viewpoints AGAIN. (After all, you haven’t switched VP’s since the last paragraph, right?)

Solution:  STOP THE MADNESS.  Limit viewpoint shifts to two per scene when you're writing novels.

7. Trend Troll

This fiery-haired statistics belcher probably has you running around like the proverbial chicken without a head. The Trend Troll is an evil mastermind, who subverts YOUR ideas and YOUR creativity when you've decided on a career of writing novels.

His modus operandi? He insists that you will earn fame and fortune if you write a novel about vampires. Or hungry games. Or 50 Shades of Puce. (Which, personally, would give me one HECK of a writer's block!)

You can easily recognize the poor, frenzied writers who’ve fallen under the Trend Troll’s spell: they are jumping on every market bandwagon reported by Publishers Weekly. By the time these writers finish plotting a novel, that market trend has long since passed. (Translation: no publisher will touch those stale tales with a 10-foot pole.)

Solution: WRITE WHAT YOU LOVE. And stick to it. Writer's block has a tendency to dissolve when you're enjoying your sessions in the Hot Seat.

8. Bad-Mouth Bogart

This foul-breathed tantrum thrower will tempt you to procrastinate because your feelings got hurt. But writers' block is just the beginning: the Bogart will put your whole career at risk.

While you're supposed to be writing novels, the Bad-Mouth Bogart will urge you to waste time by creating a social media campaign that flames any writing professional who dared to give you honest feedback. 

Solution:  Get over yourself.

Failing that? Re-read the inspired words of author John Scalzi: “Engrave this in your brain: EVERY WRITER GETS REJECTED. You will be no different.

Now go write something.

9. Serial Siren

This slanty-eyed, shape-shifting stinker can sometimes look like the Trend Troll. (Was that enough alliteration for you?)

But don’t let the Serial Siren fool you! As part of her nefarious scheme to afflict you with writer's block, she will coax you to write the same ::yawn:: plot or character in a dozen consecutive books. Why? Because your readers liked your first version of the tale.

(And you wonder why you’re bored out of your mind?)

Solution: Take a risk! Write short. Write long. Write another genre. (And for heaven’s sake, write another character archetype!)

10. Doomsday Banshee

“You’ll never get this published,” the Banshee wails. “Stop suffering delusions of grandeur. Do you really think anyone wants to read that hooey? All those strangers will think you’re writing novels about your crazy life. Do you know how many writers are starving? You should have listened to your mother and gone to medical school. Are you still typing, loser?”

Solution: Take a deep breath and BANISH THE BANSHEE. (You were just waiting for that double-B alliteration, weren’t you?) Quitters doom their books faster than any Writer's Block Gremlin ever could.

What, you're STILL reading this post?  Thanks.  NOW GO WRITE SOMETHING!

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