Conquering the Blank Screen
by Jennifer AlLee
It used to be that a blank sheet of paper was a writer’s worst nightmare. But not anymore. Now, we fear the blank screen.
So what’s a writer to do when a new idea is pounding at the inside of his brain, begging to come out, but he doesn’t know how to start the thing? Here are a few ideas:
Write the title first.
Quite often, assigning a title to a project will make it feel more real. Think of something snappy, something that will grab people’s attention. Try to capture the tone of your project in a few words. Once you’ve got it, type it at the top of your first page, in capital letters, and follow it with your by-line. Under that write Chapter 1. Now keep on writing.
Flesh out your characters.
Have you ever started working on a story only to stop short when you realize you don’t know all the characters’ names? Talk about a creativity killer. Before you write the first word of your first chapter, take some time to get to know your characters. What are their names? Who are they? What do they do for a living? What do they look like? Write a short paragraph about each one. This doesn't need to be pretty writing. No one will see these paragraphs but you. Not only will this exercise help you nail down necessary facts about your characters, but you’ll feel those creative juices start flowing. By the time you’re done, your fingers will be itching to start the actual story.
Examine the setting.
Sometimes, setting is just as important as the characters. Sometimes, it almost becomes a character of its own. Is your story set in a unique place? Is the location pivotal to the development of your characters? If so, you may want to start there.
It’s been said time and again by lots of people smarter than me: You’ve got to write the first draft before you can move on to the second. In other words, sometimes you’ve just got to write something, even if it’s drivel, in order to move the story along. You can fix it later. So if you’re stuck staring at a blank page, wondering how to get things moving along, just write something. One of the blessings of the home computer is how easy it is to edit and revise a manuscript. After all, that's what God created the delete key for.
Jennifer AlLee lived the first ten years of her life on the second floor of a mortuary in the heart of
Find out more about Jennifer and her upcoming novel: