Propping up a saggy middle – writer-style…

Yeah, so this isn’t about support hose, girdles or Spanx. I’ve been reading up on plotting and pacing, trying to figure out how to move things along more efficiently in my writing (ie. get rid of the boring parts). If I had a choice, I’d take character development over plotting any day. Sadly, there is no such choice as both are essential elements. So, here’s the list I keep taped to my desk:images

PLOTTING ADVICE – INCREASING TENSION IN YOUR NOVEL

  • COMPLICATE THINGS; ADD APPREHENSION
  • THINK OF CHARACTERS AS ACTORS ON STAGE – IS WHAT THEY’RE DOING CAPTIVATING?
  • RAISE INTERESTING QUESTIONS, CAUSING READERS TO WANT ANSWERS
  • BUILDING TENSION IS LIKE INFLATING A BALLOON, SLOWLY BUT SURELY, UNTIL IT THREATENS TO POP
  • FORESHADOWING
  • PRUNE SCENES DOWN TO THE ESSENTIAL BITS
  • ANTICIPATION (OF GOOD AND BAD THINGS); POSTPONE THE RESOLUTION
  • INCLUDE MORE PROMISES TO SET UP THE READER’S EXPECTATIONS
  • DON’T MAKE EVERYBODY TOO NICE (yikes!)
  • THINK OF FLAWS THAT CAUSE CONFLICT/OBSTACLES TO GOAL
  • FLUCTUATING EMOTION
  • CHANGES TO THROW THE PROTAGONIST OFF BALANCE
  • WHAT IS THE PROTAGONIST’S (OR YOUR READER’S) WORST FEAR?
  • UNEXPECTED TWISTS – OPPOSITE OF WHAT’S EXPECTED
  • LET YOUR PROTAGONIST HAVE SECRETS SHE KEEPS
  • ANGER/HURT BETWEEN CHARACTERS
  • BAD STUFF THAT HAPPENS QUICKLY
  • GO THERE – LET YOUR PROTAGONIST HIT ROCK BOTTOM
  • ALWAYS GIVE THE READER A REASON TO TURN THE PAGE (ESPECIALLY AT CHAPTER ENDINGS)

I read a lot of articles, but many of these ideas came from C.S. Laskin’s site, a valuable resource for writers, found here: Picture1 http://www.livewritethrive.com/resources/ Thank you!

I hope you might find some of these ideas useful. It would be easier if we could just buy Spanx for our words – I suppose that’s one of the editor’s roles:) And if all else fails, read your work aloud to your dog, my best audience. Thanks for reading, and happy plotting!

4 thoughts on “Propping up a saggy middle – writer-style…

  1. Amen to all the above^. The point I try to remember is that what is interesting to me may not be to a reader who is less attached to the story. This is why editors, agents and Beta readers are so important.

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