Someone I read once said, “If you can’t write about a wall, try writing about one brick in the wall.”
Sometimes, when you’re stuck on a scene, you need to pull back and do an overview. What’s the overall situation, which characters are where, what’s the Ultimate Goal of this scene and how does it advance the story.
But sometimes I try all that and it’s still going nowhere. Or worse – I try for an overview but the whole situation is too nebulous to grasp. And I can’t figure out why.
At that point, it’s time for three things. First, sleep. Second, reading or watching Something Completely Different. Third – dig in and get specific.
What flavor’s the ice cream? Who’s going to hit the floor first in a drunken brawl? Is the first punch an uppercut to the jaw – or not a punch at all, but someone slamming the Big Bad with an unexpected herbal magic he’d never even heard of before?
Getting specific – especially going after sensory details – can let you dig at why. And those whys can lead to who did X, and how, and possibly let you get past the sticky part by going around it. The long way, sometimes; but the point is to get past being stuck. You can always go back and condense things later.
In this particular case, I had an “X monster flees” situation. So I dug into, was there any specifically local lore I could possibly use to make such a big bad flee?
Turns out there is – if I combine a few bits of local stuff with some non-local stuff and judicious use of “various folkloric monsters in one tradition might be equivalent to something in a different tradition”.
…I still need sleep, and I’m going to end up making edits to make this fit, but I’ll take the place to start!