Engage with Your Story’s Events

Sometimes…*sigh* ideas just don’t come out of your pen (or flow from your fingertips into the computer keyboard) as easily as you might wish. Sometimes, you sit for hours trying to write; sometimes, you even bore yourself with the text you’re producing. Like the scene I’d been trying to write for the last six weeks in my novel: true, my computer’s been out of commission and I’m trying not to hog the family computer, but I found myself at a loss as to how to go on with the scene. It was stuck in dreary mundane details, and yet I felt I simply HAD to write those details in order to explain the scene properly.

I’m sure, as writers, we all face that type of difficulty–it’s not exactly writer’s block, but it’s something akin to hating what you’re producing and not understanding how to proceed. But how do we get around it?

…How about actually trying to DO the event you’re writing about?

Sounds novel (pardon the pun), and maybe a little strange. “You mean I should act out what I have the character doing?” No, not just acting it out–actually get up from what you’re writing and change your activity. If you’re writing a cooking scene, get up and whip something up in the kitchen, even if you’re only a master of the microwave. Being in the kitchen, preparing the food, smelling it cooking, can jog your senses and remind you of what’s really important in the scene. What scents arise from the food in your story? Are they pleasant or repulsive to your character? If they’re actively involved in cooking, how does the process of cooking feel to them (are they slaving over a hot stove, etc.)?

What about an action scene? Well, if you’re not afraid of knocking over priceless artifacts in your home, you can try out some of the kicks, punches, and dodges you’ve scripted for your character. See if that Chuck-Norris-esque roundhouse kick works for your character to do, or if it’s simply too awesome for your novice fighter to try at this point. And if you can’t do the motion for yourself, try watching some videos or asking knowledgeable friends. If you’re working with an unfamiliar weapon in your story, research is especially important, so you know the “proper” way the weapon is held, how it is used in combat, etc.

The point of engaging with your story’s events in a physical way is to pull yourself out of the mental rut you’ve gotten yourself into. If you’re this stuck on a story, something’s got to change, and actively trying out the event you’re writing could reveal just what it is about the event that is bothering you.

In my novel, for instance, the part of the story that dragged was a “packing up and leaving” scene; I tried tidying up my cluttered mess of a room to try to reproduce the event, and found that I was not writing about the FEELING of packing up–the feel of the items passing through my hands as I packed them, the heaviness of the bags in my hands and looped around my arms. The event felt dead to me because there was no physical sensation involved in the telling of the event. Once I added some sensory elements, the event of packing up came alive; it felt more involved than ever, and no longer was I so bored that I wanted to cry while reading the paragraph. It was a small change, but it helped get me over a hurdle!


Doing what you’re writing about can help you keep your interest in the story, as well as lend some real-life experience and sensory elements to your scene. While you might weird a few people out (especially if you try out that roundhouse kick in public), you’ll be doing yourself a favor if the act gets you out of sitting fruitlessly at your computer for hours!

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