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Ley Hayley and the Ford 99 Test

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Many of the lords who had come to Westfold for the tournament stayed for several days afterward.

This is the start of chapter six of the novel, and I remember writing this chapter. Well, I remember how many times I tried to write this chapter. I was completely lost in the tension all my characters were feeling when I was writing this, and it gave me writer’s block so bad that it took me two weeks to get this chapter written in the first draft. It was brutal.

The one thing that stands out when I remember working on this chapter was how I broke the writer’s block. When I say I was caught up in the tension my character’s felt, I mean it. I had headaches and muscle aches for days because of it. You’ve heard of method actors? Those guys who spend two months working on a farm in Jamaica to play a slave in a period film. I’m that kind of writer. I immerse myself in the feelings of my characters, particularly my narrator. And sometimes I forget that I have to separate myself from that. So when this tension got to be too much, I had to do something to break it because there was literally nothing I could do to get rid of the writer’s block. And if I didn’t get through this chapter, I was going to be stuck in the tension and the frustration forever.

So I dug through my DVD collection and popped in A Knight’s Tale. Honestly, it fits, doesn’t it? A movie about knights, tournaments, princes and romance. And it was exactly what I needed. I set up my writing desk so that I could watch the DVD out of the corner of my eye while I worked at my laptop. Maybe it was the comedy or maybe it was the fact that it was such a mix of modern and medieval themes, but something about A Knight’s Tale broke through the tension. To this day, I can’t really figure out what it was. But when it comes to the Elemental Royals Trilogy, that movie is my go to when I’m stuck on a chapter.

I can actually remember doing revisions and getting to this line. I had kept the movie on repeat so many times that I could quote it from start to finish without stopping. Sometimes I even fell into a British accent when I was talking to my family for no reason. When I came to this line, I remembered how frustrated I was when I’d been writing this chapter the first time around and I could just feel the tension coming back. I had to take a breath and stop myself. My mind automatically went to my favorite part of the movie, the funniest part in my mind. I sat at my desk, took my hands off the keys, and said out loud, “And one, and two, and Wat doesn’t lead he follows like a girl!”

That was enough to break the tension. To this day when I read that line, I always have to say that out loud. No one gets it but me, so I think of it as a secret between the book and I. Well, now you’re in on it, too.

 

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By Pam

My passion is advocating for diversity in children's and YA literature.