I hit a slow period with my latest novel these past couple of weeks. This one is a big leap from my earlier efforts. Instead of genre fiction, it's mainstream fiction, or what some people call "literary" fiction, although I don't like that word because, like "patriotism", it's been so overused that it's become almost meaningless. Anyway, I've been struggling with this experiment in a new genre and a new voice.
When the writing gets tough, the writer goes to the library. One of my main characters is a fictional silent film star. He mostly acts in westerns next to Tom Mix, so I've been reading an excellent biography on Mix called, The Life and Legend of Tom Mix, written by one of his descendants. It's really gotten me into the feel of the era, while giving me lots of trivia to help with the writing. For example, to do the stunt shooting like blasting bottles off the bar, early actors made it easier on themselves by loading their revolvers with buckshot! That's too good not to go in somewhere.
Since I like to fuse my fictional characters as seamlessly as possible with real events, like I did with my last novel, this book helped me figure out just when my character starts working with Mix. It was remarkably easy, because many of the early Mix films are lost. Mix made more than 330 of them and none of his biographers are sure the filmography is even complete. Thus it's easy for me to give him a co-star and even make up movies without changing history too much!
So if you're having trouble with your novel, try doing some research with a notebook right next to you. You'll find yourself scribbling down notes, ideas, and eventually entire scenes.