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Destroy Writer's Block Once and For All

Updated on July 27, 2019

Do You Know Yours?

This is the end. Beautiful friend.
This is the end. Beautiful friend.

The End

Take a walk. Listen to some music. De-clutter. Remove distraction. These are all invaluable suggestions that prod the unconscious mind and foster a productive writing environment - but, do any of these activities really "cure" writer's block?

One of the most important lessons I learned in film school (and it resonates just as strongly today) is perhaps one of the most simple lessons of all: know your ending.

Before I sit down to write a single word, I know exactly who my main character is and how his/her story will end. With my conclusion already established, the actions and interactions of my characters are all united with one clearly defined purpose, to reach that end.

With this important piece of the puzzle already in place, the dizzying endlessness of possibilities is diminished and our minds are able to clearly focus.

We will all struggle with dialogue and details from time to time, but as long as we have a destination for our characters and their story, these struggles will prove to be little more than fleeting hiccups on the road to completion.

Let's Exercise

I absolutely love films with ensemble casts of tight-knit career criminals, such as Heat and The Town, so let's take a walk down that road together and see what we can come up with.

First, we'll need a main character - let's call him Samson. Sam is a young man, not yet thirty-years old. He's had a tough life, and his career path clearly reflects that. He steals whatever wants, whenever he wants - and he's damn good at it.

Together with his childhood friend Eddy, and a pair of twin brothers named Tomás and Efraín, Sam has managed to create a highly successful crew of professional thieves.

Now that we have a main character and supporting cast, we can skip directly to the end of the film and decide how we want it to end. Will Samson get caught, or maybe even killed? Will he evade The Law and escape to an exotic location where he can enjoy the fruits of his labor? Will his crew join him in paradise, or will they be caught and killed along the way?

Samson has had it rough his whole life, despite being a goodly man. He loathes violence and goes out of his way to make sure no one is injured during his robberies, so I want him to evade the authorities and escape with some of the loot.

His crew, however, will not be as lucky. Unfortunately, Eddy has been coerced by the authorities into giving up his crew in exchange for medical care for his sickly wife and child, which leads to Tomás and Efraín dying in a hail of bullets during their final heist. As the police close in on Sam and his crew, Eddy confesses his transgression just in time for Sam to escape.

We've created the main characters and decided on an ending, so all that's left to do is fill in the blanks. Now that the story has some structure, it will all but write itself... I guarantee.

Good luck, and happy writing!


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