I'd been trying to figure out a segment of my book for a few weeks, and the moment for when I would have to confront it was last night. I'd gotten so far and, since it was time to go to bed, anyway, I simply stopped there.
My character is a clairvoyant, but she's also becoming more magical as the days go by (or as the series progress), because she is also a sibyl. As a sibyl she is able to see things that others cannot. She also now possesses a very, very old dagger which had belonged to the last sibyl, and has been handed down to her. She really doesn't know how she will use it, but she has a terrible feeling she's supposed to be killing undesirables with it.
In my third book Sabrina is in another world where vampires actually run it, and humans are nothing more than walking blood banks, and for sexual gratification. Oh, and vampires are viable here, thus we have half-vampire, half-humans walking about.
But other things, darker things, roam this place, and although the humans can't see them, Sabrina can—and so can vampires and the half-breeds. These beings are cloaked from head to foot, and normally simply stand in a corner doing nothing.
My actual first idea was to have them interact with humans, or the vampires, and then I decided not to.
Jett is one of the half-breeds that Sabrina gets to know, his mother is very sick, and they go to her bedside, and low and behold, here stands one of these black-cloaked individuals. Sabrina sees it; she's seen them before and so simply presumes they are hanging around for some reason. She senses nothing from them at all.
Then the dagger, which she has strapped to her leg, flies out of the sheath and kills the being, and it collapses, the body disintegrates.
This scene was going through my head last night as I went to bed. I knew now why this woman--Jett's mother--was sick. As the creature dies, the woman suddenly opens her eyes and begins to gradually feel better.
Prior to this I knew I wanted Jett's mother to be sick, and I was trying to figure out what she was sick from. Something they couldn't cure on their world, of course. But I could come up with nothing. For weeks I'd been pondering this question. And then, last night it simply came to me.
These cloaked creatures create sorrow, depression, sickness, wherever they go. And they will remain wherever they find someone weak enough to infect.
Sabrina's knife, obviously, is able to kill such beings, because it's magical. She and Jett are both startled by this outcome. The fact that she can see them is also startling. Jett tells her no one has ever killed one before, and that they can't ever get rid of them. Usually once one has infested a family, it's not uncommon for the family to die, one by one.
Solving this problem I can now move on. I knew, eventually, the answer would come to me. Pondering it, but not worrying about it was the key. When I went to bed, my mind was going into a restful state. I used to be amazed by this ability to find an answer to some plot problem, or story situation that needed to be written and I had no idea what I would do. Seems that whenever I come to that point of writing it, it usually works itself out. As though the answer was just laying within reach. Just underneath the surface.
I think of my finding such solutions like an archaeologist may uncover some treasure. Even as the solution might be elusive at first, dogged determination, and following leads, soon you unearth this treasure and maybe more to follow. And soon you'll have a string of discoveries, and they all fit together like a large puzzle.
The life of a writer is that of solitude as we work. But in that solitude comes wonderful discovery of who we are. We become amazed at how our talent grows over time, and the workings of how we solve these little writing problems seems to become part of the process. If we don't push a panic button, learn to relax our mind, the answer eventually comes along.
Discovery of the very depths of our imagination is part of who and what we are: Writers.