Raymond Chandler once gave the following rule for writing: "When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand."
You can certainly see that in Chandlers' work. When the Big Sleep was being adapted for cinema, Chandler was asked whether a certain character had been murder or had killed himself. He confided in a friend, "dammit I didn't know either."
When I am writing at the Not For the Faint-Hearted events, I have a number of tropes that I fall back on if I am stuck. One of these is clowns. They're so easy to write about. They're supposed to be having fun all the time, so if a clown unhappy you have an immediate question to work with. A clown sitting at the side of a street, with a half-empty bottle of whiskey: why?
I've shared my clown theory with my friend Louise Halvardsson. Her first clown story, Clowntown, was recently read at a short story night. I think there should be more stories about clowns. As Louise advises, "add a clown to your writing whenever you get stuck."