All it takes it one hit.
That’s what you hear baseball coaches saying often about breaking out of a slump. It’s getting that hit that is the tricky part. But last night, I think I finally got it. In a baseball slump, in order to get a hit, a batter will often try making small adjustments: changing the way they hold the bat; altering their stance to improve their view; working on their timing. Little things can make a big difference.
For me, that little thing turned out to be point of view. There are two view point characters in my story, and I was attempting to write both of them from a close third person. For one of the characters, it began to occur to me that maybe I’d chosen the wrong point of view for that part of the story. I liked the character, but the point of view just wasn’t working. Also, I’d written a sample in first person for both characters that seemed to work much better.
So yesterday afternoon, I discussed this at length with another science fiction writer, one who is far more adept at these issues than I am. She asked good questions about my characters motivations, and pointed out that the character I liked could still work as a viewpoint character–and why. She also confirmed my use of first person, pointing to some of her own stories that used a similar technique. Last night, after putting the Little Man to bed, I sat down and started the story over from scratch and within an hour, had rewritten the first scene, some 1,200 words, and they were they easiest 1,200 words I’ve written in quite a while. They just flowed. I like the new viewpoints and I have a clear vision of where the story is going. I can’t wait to write more tonight.
I can’t stress the value of having a “coach”, so to speak, that can help you through slumps like this. Being able to bounce ideas and frustrations off of other professional writers is one of the things that makes our little genre so special.