Review of Unblocked by Carolyn Frechette

Finally! A book on writer’s block that deals with more than just fear of the blank page.

 A book that says there is more than one way to be blocked and unable to write. Or that it might be a specific part of the book you’re having trouble with, not just writing in general.

You see, my problem has never been a lack of ideas, or a lack of ways to add interest or conflict. So those exercises where you add another character, or switch the gender, don’t help at all. In fact, they make it worse. My problem is too many, better ideas. You start me on gender swapping, location swapping, adding new people, and my novella becomes a four-novel opus of 200,000 words each!

In a completely new way of looking at the problem, or at least, a new way of analyzing and attacking it; Caroline Frechette, in Blocked: The Sure-Fire Way To Get Rid Of Writer’s Block Forever determines if the issue is story-related (the way most other books assume it is) or YOU related.

That is; do you need more character development, more conflict, more plot? Or do you need more focus, more planning, more attention to your theme? I need focus. I know that now, I need to take out the stuff that is funny, fascinating, wild… and put it in another scene, or even another book. Focus on what moves the plot.

Or as Stephen King put it: kill your darlings.

She has a number of ways of analyzing just what your particular writing problem is: Plot? Character development? World building? Conflict? Focus? Is the story too thin, too one layered? Is it too full, too confusing?

Then she has separate sections for each problem, giving ways to fix it, advice on writing for a particular issue, and suggestions for plotting. How to plot, not what to plot.

Which leads to another thing I loved, the book doesn’t rely on exercises (which I hate doing and find pointless) it talks about finding out why you’re having a problem, and how to work through, or around, it. Thinking about it, not obsessing. And not playing tiddlywinks with imaginary characters to see if they have any ideas. My characters have way too many ideas, that’s the problem.

Overall? Buy this book. Having read through it once with my current novel in mind, it really helped shake a few problems loose so I could deal with them. I wonder if reading it again while plotting out a new book would help prevent those issues from even arising?

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