It’s happened to all of us. You get a story all planned out, you create the world, the characters, the set-pieces and you storm through the first few chapters. ‘Excellent,’ you say, ‘this is really going somewhere.’ But then it happens. You lose interest.
Then what do you do? You start writing something else. Whoa, hold on! That’s the last thing you want to be doing. I should know, I’ve done it more times than I can count on an octopus’ fingers (if they had fingers).
I want you all to be honest. If you’ve ever done this before, leave a comment on this post with a simple “Yes”. The first step to breaking this nasty cycle is admitting that you do it.
The second thing you need to do once you’ve acknowledged your habit is to go back to that story that you now supposedly “hate” and find out where it went wrong. You may think you don’t need to do this, but you really do. What you need to do is run through this checklist and make sure that your story has all of these things:
- A clear theme (e.g. betrayal, the human spirit, love)
- A plan for a beginning, middle and end
- At least one central character who is interesting to read about
- A conflict that makes people care about the outcome
- A change/progression in your main characters
If you feel that your story was missing any of the above elements, go back and fix it.
If none of those things were missing, then there might be an even simpler solution: swap something around. This can often make all the difference. Here’s an example:
Hero A is honest, charming and kind. Villain B is selfish, impulsive and brooding.
Now, if we change things around a little, things become a touch more interesting:
Hero A is brooding and impulsive but also kind. Villain B is honest and charming but also selfish.
Immediately, we’ve blurred the lines between what’s “good” and what’s not and made the characters much deeper.
So, next time your story starts to flounder and you feel yourself switching off, try the techniques above and play around with what you have. Remember, just have fun with it!