September 22nd, 2009

ppbk cover

Craft: Where's the Story

cross-posted from

People often ask me what to do when they have started a story, were excited about it in the beginning, but then never finish it. So here are my thoughts on that issue:

Go back to the beginning. Try to remember what got you excited about the idea in the first place. Try to figure out where you started getting bored, where you took a wrong turn. It's easy to jump start a stalled manuscript just by taking the story in a different direction.

Remember this: nothing you write is wasted. Everything helps in creating the story, even if it doesn't end up in the final manuscript. Sometimes we find that much of what we have written is back story -- that is, information we needed to know about the characters or their lives in order to tell their stories, but which don't need to be seen by the reader.

JE McLeod's Tuesday Tip today was to start where the story really begins, the moment when everything changes. Try to leave out the parts that lead up to that moment. Keep that part in your head and let it inform the writing.

And if you're stuck somewhere in the middle and don't feel excited to move forward, skip ahead. Write the fun parts, write the end, don't worry about the middle. You can always come back to that later.

And if you don't know where the story wants to go -- ask it. Interview the story itself or the characters. Be willing to try different techniques to break into the subconscious. Because that's where stories are born.

Happy writing