December 6, 2011

light a fire

Twelve Days of Writing No. 2: Rekindle the love for your story and write through tough middles.


Don't laugh, but I compare my experience writing any novel to a relationship.

I spend hours with it. I love and care for it. Sometimes we have fun and other times it makes me cry. Then there are the times it drives me crazy. Sound familiar?

Throw in a situation like National Novel Writing Month, and that relationship goes fast and is bound to hit rough patches. Week one, the story was new and exciting and you could not keep your hands off of it. Week two, you have your first fight, but you manage to work through it. Then, during week three you realize, at moments, you hate it. You're stuck somewhere in the middle, and you don't know what to do.

Do you throw in the towel or do you make it work?

If you are committed to your novel, and I hope you are, don't give up. Instead, work through it and remind yourself of why you started writing. Try one of these tips to add spice to your story:

1. Throw punches. Have your character get into a fistfight or a battle of words. It does not have to be a full out fight — a little brawl will work. Disagreements create natural conflict and excitement. By the time you give your character a bloody lip, or a wounded ego, you will have added value to your story and gotten yourself pumped to write the next scene.

2. Kiss someone. I don’t care what kind of a book you are writing. Romance, mystery or adventure, adding a smooch — or a full love scene — will literally get your blood pumping. Don’t have the guts to get too mushy? No problem. Even a hint of sexual tension or chemistry between characters will work.

3. Change the scenery. You and your story might be in a rut if you keep going to the same places over and over. Try somewhere new. Have your characters grab a drink at a bar. Send them to a fancy restaurant while they are wearing jeans. Putting your characters in a new location gets your brain working, because you have to think about new details. Moving your characters to a new setting can also be telling about who they are based on how they act.

4. Give a big reveal. Does your character actually come from a small town in Montana when we thought she was a New York native? Is your character afraid of mice when we thought he was a tough guy all along? If you are intrigued by these new developments, you can bet a reader will be, too.

5. Put your character in a tough situation. Catch the protagonist in a lie, or have them face a fear. This builds your character and the conflicts they face throughout the plot.

Do whatever it takes to build some excitement for the reader, and yourself. Make sure whichever tip you try builds your story.

Remember, like a relationship, when Nov. 30 rolled around, it did not mean it was over for you and your book. If you are like me, then you have several more chapters to go until you write “The End.” After that, you have edits, reviews, querying or whatever else is part of your plan.

Keep that in perspective to help you work through the tricky middles, because the ending will be worth the effort.

Giveaway challenge: How do you write through tricky middles? 

Answer in the comments below to be entered to win this week's Twelve Days of Writing drawing. Be sure to check back Friday at 2 p.m. CDT to see if you are this week's winner. Read about the contest and what prizes you can win here.

1 comment:

  1. Middles can get boring. Punch it up a little bit, throw in some ninjas, or devastate your protagonist by a casual announcement from her husband while carving the Thanksgiving turkey that he's leaving her.

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