Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For Writers - Where's the Beef?

It's another wild day here in Dublin. I'm racing to get this posted before the next band of storms arrives. (I can see the mass swiftly approaching on the Doppler. Kind of freaky.) So, quickly, and without further ado...

This week's tip comes from another reader question:

Q. I like my story idea, but sometimes when I write, it seems like nothing is happening. What am I doing wrong?

A. It's tough to diagnose without actually reading your work, but if you think nothing is happening, it sounds like maybe you are lacking the tension to keep the plot moving. Here are a few things you can do to beef up your plot:

1. Chase your hero up a tree and throw stones at her. IOW, make it hard for your character to reach her goal. Throw roadblocks in her way. Disappoint her. Dangle her over an alligator pit (Put her in danger, physically, emotionally, spiritually.) The more trouble, the better. Keep your readers turning the page to find out how she's going to get out of the trouble you've thrown her into.

2. Up the stakes. Ask yourself, what could make it worse? What is at risk? How can you make it bigger? More personal? More urgent? Go there.

3. Give your hero a flaw, and make her overcome it. What's the one thing your character is most afraid of? Make her face that fear/flaw. (Think Indiana Jones and his paralyzing fear of snakes, which he has to face when he is thrown into a pit of writhing snakes before his great escape.)

If you have a question you'd like to see answered on Tip Tuesday, either by me or the panel of expert contributors, send it to: gerb (@) lindagerber (.) com.

This week's link roundup:

Writing a satisfying ending (kidlit) Seriously love Mary Kole.

Shake up your story settings (MyBigNose) Reveal new things about your characters.

Culprits that block Writers (WriterUnboxed) What stops an agent from reading?

Ask why because your readers will (OtherSideOftheStory) Look for plot holes

Theme, Imagery & Description ( Stick with well-chosen details

More on description (Wordplay) "Telling details"

Appropriate for this week: Thunderstorm thesaurus (Bookshelf Muse) Just one of many fabulous setting thesaurus entries

Fantasy twists (ParanormalPOV) Prepare your readers.

The 10 Commandments of a Successful Writer (Publetariat) Care of Ronnie Loren.

6 Things to Consider when Choosing a Story Idea (YA Muses) Excellent.

More on Ideas (Laura Pauling) How to choose which one to write.

10 things that make a character great (LisaDescrocher) Plus a teaser for Original Sin.

Character web (theAdventurousWriter) Mapping out the relationships between characters.

More on Characters (YAHighway) Strong female characters.

The Inciting Incident (BubbleCow) Technique for engaging readers.

POV (Cheryl'sMusings) What we can learn from Cassandra Clare & 3rd Person Limited POV

Voice of POV (Ingrid'sNotes) Great exercise.

Revisions (Jess Free Falcon) Be brave!

The Breakout Novelist (The CreativePenn) Video interview with The Donald (Maass).

Now go. Write!