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12 key steps for getting unstuck as a writer

Trapped in the middle of your manuscript? Here’s how to move forward.

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Unsettle your character.

We all, characters included, have a particular way of seeing ourselves in the world. We believe we are good mothers, for example. Or good people. We think we’re smart. Savvy. Loved. But what happens if something challenges that belief. In Liane Moriarty’s novel Big Little Lies, one of the major characters considers herself a good mother. Her husband deserted her when her daughter was little. She formed a special bond with that daughter and has always believed that she would be her daughter’s favorite parent. She deserves it. But then, her ex-husband and his young new wife move back into the town where Madeline lives, and, to her horror, her daughter actually prefers the young wife. Suddenly Madeline is not the person she thought she was. Instead of being the good mother, she finds herself becoming the angry, bitter mother. Some of the most touching parts of that book deal with Madeline’s efforts to figure out who she is. So maybe Molly’s always thought she could get married whenever she wants, and now she’s having to confront the fact that at 30 years old, in New York, she’s on the older end of the dating spectrum. (I hesitate to call anyone who’s 30 old, but New York City is tough.) What does your character believe about herself?

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