The best writing advice I ever received was from Brad Meltzer, one of my favorite novelists. He writes mostly political thrillers. I met him at a signing, told him I was writing my first novel, and was stuck in Act Two. “I’ve built a lot of momentum,” I said, “and I think I know where this is all eventually going — but how do move forward right now? What do I do?”
Meltzer replied, “Ask yourself, ‘What happens next?’.
I blinked, incredulous. He smiled and said, “I know it sounds too simple to work, but it does. Just ask, ‘What happens next?’
So I went home and asked myself What happens next? and it totally worked. The simplicity of the question forced me to focus on my immediate goal: getting through the next chapter — and not worrying about what would happen ten chapters from now.
I still use that technique, and always will.