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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 16th day of Swimming, Yr 20
The Neopian Times Week 33 > Articles > Writer's Block? No Problem

Writer's Block? No Problem

by muas

Many times I've been frustrated by writer's block as I try to come up with a new story for The Neopian Times. Sometimes when that happens, I use a method which usually seems to work for me. Here, I'll detail that method. What you can do will be below the step, and a theoretical story I did following my method will follow it. Confused? Read on.

1. Think of a location.

Your story has to be set somewhere! Sometimes stories go across worlds and to whole different continents, but think of the main setting first. Try to think of something that isn't often covered--for example, stories about Faerieland abound, but where are all the stories set on the Space Station?

For my hypothetical story, I picked the Haunted Woods, because it's always intrigued me and there is a plethora of good stuff to use there that's not often mentioned.

2. Come up with your protagonist.

The protagonist is the main character in the story. Usually these are the good guys so readers are sympathetic and support them, but you can have villains as your protagonists too. Try to shake things up a bit. Grarrls and Skeiths are often meanies in stories, so maybe you could make a Grarrl as your main character and have him or her very nice and generous. Also, think of your protagonist's appearance and his or her history.

NeoPets stories don't always have to have pets or humans as the main character. You could do one from a pet pet's point of view or a faerie's. That's likely to make your story all the more interesting.

I chose the Brain Tree for my protagonist. I decided I would make him a poor, misunderstood monster, who just wants to find out information but constantly is badgered by pets and humans alike. It's unique and presents a Neopian presence in a completely different light.

3. Figure out an antagonist as well as supporting characters.

Every story has to have conflict. Mostly this conflict comes in the form of an opposing character, an antagonist. If you're going the usual way, your protagonist would be a nice person (pet, faerie, whatever) and your antagonist would be an evil meanie. Just remember that if your protagonist is mean you'll probably want a nice antagonist.

The supporting characters are essential. If your protagonist is a human, the supporters would be the human's pets or Neofriends; if he or she is a pet, the supporters may come in the form of other pets or the owner.

The Brain Tree doesn't have many supporting characters. After all, who likes him, except those who can find the answer to his quests and get his prizes? I have a lot of antagonists (remember, there needn't be just one). Here, normally nicely-portrayed pets become evil in the mind of the Brain Tree, who constantly "disses" them.

4. Come up with a short outline.

This doesn't have to be the long, drawn-out, formal outline you did or are doing in English class. If you're writing a short story, it should be able to be condensed into one or two sentences. Anything over three is becoming far too much of a convoluted plot. Just come up with a general idea of how your story will begin, how it will progress and how it may end. Write this down somewhere for reference.

The outline I came up with for my story is as follows: "The Brain Tree thinks of himself as misunderstood and the other pets as mean greedy little animals. Throughout the story he will have experiences with other pets and by the end he'll learn to accept them and be nicer." This way, I go into the writing process with some idea of how it will end and a template to follow.

5. Start writing!

This is just your rough draft, so write whatever comes into your head. You can edit it out later. Don't be concerned with length, grammar, or spelling just yet. However, if you write about something you're unfamiliar with, you might want to 'mark' it so that you'll remember to verify it later.

For example, I don't know much about the Brain Tree. When I came to a part in my story where I needed an example of a question he might ask, I wrote "The Brain Tree paused, looked down at the little Usul, and in his trademark booming voice, said [insert name, date here]." That way, when I went back later, to edit, I could insert the name, date, et cetera there.

6. Print out your rough draft and go over it over the period of a couple days.

It's important that you print it. Information looks different on a computer monitor than it does in 'hard copy'. I often catch simple typos I'd never have noticed had I been staring at the computer as I edited. Use a pencil or a pen, and correct grammar and spelling errors, as well as any awkward sentences or useful information. Don't be afraid to edit out whole paragraphs, but make sure the story retains its structure and voice.

7. Go back into the computer file and make the changes you marked down.

Fix the spelling and grammar errors in the file itself. Then, go over it on the computer just one more time. If you have time, leave it alone for a few days, come back to it and look at it again. You'll catch a lot of things you didn't before.

8. Send it in once you are absolutely sure it's as great as you can make it.

Send it to the e-mail address NeoPets provides. Make sure you write your username, the title of your story, and attach the story. Or, you can do what I always do, and copy it from the document and paste it in the e-mail. This makes for a long e-mail but the person receiving it will be sure to be able to read it. Always be kind and courteous.

9. Check the next issue of the Times.

If it got in, congratulations! You've earned the golden feather.

If it didn't get in, don't worry. If you sent the story in right before the week's issue, there may not have been time to fit it in. Wait a few weeks. If it doesn't appear in the next couple of editions, send it in again. Or, write another story even better than the first!

Thanks for reading; I hope you gained a lot of insight into the process of writing a NT story and may be able to use it to benefit yourself.

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