How To Keep Writing (Even If You Can’t Figure Out What Happens Next)

On power hunger.

horse

Here is a drawing I am working on. This is the first scene in The Slave from the East, when Ajalia and the other slaves are coming, in the caravan, towards the walls of Slavithe. Ajalia splits away from the others, and rides ahead on her brown horse to get a closer look at the city.

This is the part I am proudest of:

horse-detail

When you get stuck in your writing, try this:

Choose a character, any character, and allow their inner impulse to rule the world drive the scene.

Bad Writing (What the Heck Should I Write About?):

Cynthia stared at Chivers, who refused to meet her gaze.

“Well,” she said. Chivers did not reply. Cynthia turned, and looked out of the window of the turbo jet. I wish he would say something, she thought. Chivers cleared his throat, and Cynthia sat up.

“I think it might rain tonight,” Chivers pronounced, and Cynthia nodded agreeably.

“Do you have any family in the city?” she asked, hoping this would turn into more than fifteen seconds of conversation. Chivers hemmed and hawed. “I have a maiden aunt that I might have time to see,” she said, a little more sharply than she had intended.

“Oh, very nice, yes,” Chivers agreed. Their conversation petered into an awkward silence. Cynthia stared out of the window, and Chivers stared unobtrusively at Cynthia. Cynthia waited, but Chivers said nothing more. Cynthia did not know what she wanted. She wished something would happen. I wish that Chivers was a more talkative individual, she thought, and she did not do anything about this. She felt bored.

Time passed. Nothing happened.

Finally, the jet arrived, and Cynthia watched Chivers pass out of her life like a shadow shrinking in a morning sun. Goodbye forever, person who has not become my friend, she thought, as Chivers carried his heavy black case down the automatic stairs. She got her own net purse out of the opposite cubby, where she’d stuffed it, and went after the older man.

“Oh, it’s you again,” Cynthia said, when she found herself seated beside Chivers on the morning express.

“Yes,” Chivers said, and then he said nothing more.

Well, Cynthia said to herself, and she stared out of the window. This, she thought, was going to be a tedious morning, for sure. She sighed, and tried to think of something genial to say.

Good Writing (Exploiting Hunger for Power):

Cynthia watched Chivers, who kept his eyes firmly on his knotted fingers. She reached over the arm of the seat, and prodded him firmly. Chivers jostled a little to the side, and glanced at her.

“What did you poke me for?” he asked.

“I wanted to see if you were alive,” she replied. Chivers frowned. He turned his face away from her, and glared at the window across the aisle. “The jet is very empty this morning,” she added. Chivers made no reply.

Cynthia contained a petulant sigh, and turned her eyes onto Chivers’ luggage, which was tucked into the cubby at her feet. A gleam came into her expression, and she twisted gently in her seat, so that her feet were  just touching his black case.

Chivers sat up at once.

“Stop touching my things,” he said.

“Promise to talk to me, or I’ll rub my face all over your bag,” Cynthia shot back. Chivers’ eyes widened, and he glanced swiftly around the empty seats.

“Are you insane?” he hissed. “What would you do that for?”

“Tell me about your family, or about where you’re going,” Cynthia commanded. Chivers flushed, and his lips pursed up.

“I’ll move to another seat,” he said. Cynthia narrowed her eyes.

“No,” she said.

“Yes,” Chivers exclaimed. Cynthia planted her feet on the case, and put her face close to Chivers.

“No,” she said. “I’m bored, and you are going to get to know me. I want something to happen this morning.”

“I’m not something for you to make happen,” Chivers shot back, his face flushing. Cynthia smiled toothsomely, and she saw Chivers shudder with trepidation.

“Tell me about your mother,” she said, settling her legs firmly down, and bracing her knees so that her feet were solidly planted, like a fleshy cage, around the heavy black case.

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