|Ever feel like your plot is sliding out of control?|
No matter how intricate and twisty our plots are, plot holes will inevitably rear their ugly heads. Whether it’s a saggy middle, a loose end or a need for higher stakes, we’re bound to face trouble areas. Thought I’d share some of my favorite insights and exercises to help us through.
Identify and heighten the Goal, Conflict and Stakes
- Go through your novel and write these three words at the top of every chapter.
- Now, define them for every chapter.
- It helps identify trouble areas and highlight “soggy middle syndrome.”
Use questions and exercises to fix the trouble areas you ID’d
- How can you make your MC’s problem personal? This creates emotional power.
- How can you make it matter more than life?
- What’s the moment that your MC realizes there’s no turning back? Do readers get to see that scene?
- How can your MC’s problem get worse? Once you think you’ve made it as bad as it can be…ask this question again.
- What will be lost if your MC fails?
- Heighten your story’s turning points through action, dialogue and emotion
- Do you have a mix of internal and external tension? How can you add one or the other?
- Are your characters emotional or active? How can they be both? Can their actions and emotions be at odds?
Nail the timeline and logistics
- Know what ALL your characters are doing at any given moment, even if they’re not on scene. I did a guest post on this topic for Sommer Leigh’s Tell Great Stories a while back. MG author Janice Hardy also has some great tips on her blog.
So, there you have it. Not a perfect plot solution, but enough questions to keep us busy and scheming away on our next twist!