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Eight Writing Problems
Below are eight common problems that many writers have and how to deal with them.
1) Did you forget what the story you are writing is about? You sit down and begin to write. Later someone asks you what your story is about and you realize you have no idea. How can you fix this problem? When you reach the middle of the story and it is full of twist and turns, subplots, and characters acting in weird ways, it is important to be able to remember what your original idea was. When you first come up with the idea, write it down in about 30-40 words and tape it up where you can see it while you write. This will keep you focused on what you originally started out writing. If you need to change it along the way, then change it. But keep the idea taped up where you can look at it if the need arises.
2) What audience are you writing for? What type of readers will be interested in what you are writing? You wouldn’t write a sweet romance story for a magazine full of horror stories. Nor would you write a hard-boiled mystery for a magazine full of futuristic science fiction/fantasy stories.
Many writers make the mistake of not studying the magazines they wish to write for. Read magazine that you wish to write for from cover to cover until you get the feel for the type of stories you need to submit to them.
3) The events in your own life are full of ideas for great novels. Face it, though, real life has many boring moments. You need to add some fictional events to the actual happenings and twist things around a bit to turn your life’s events into a great novel. If you feel you need to write things just as they happened, you are wanting to write a memoir. If you must write it to get it out of your system, then write it and put it away in a drawer somewhere. Who knows? Maybe one day you will be famous and your memoirs could end up on the best seller list.
4) What is a hook? A hook is something that draws your reader into the story and makes them want to keep reading. If you story doesn’t hook the reader within the first few pages, chances are your story will be put down.
Walk into a bookstore and examine the first scene in several different books. How quickly did this opening scene grab your attention? Was it the setting? Was it the characters? Or maybe it was an exciting event? What exactly was it about this opening scene that made you want to keep reading? Or what was there about it that made you want to put the book down?
Now go home and practice writing an opening hook for your story or novel. Keep trying until you get one that is sure to catch your readers’ attention.
5) Are you telling instead of showing? Actions do speak louder than words. If you are writing an instruction manual, then you need to tell. If you are writing a fiction story, then you need to show. How do you show? The use of action will illustrate and bring life to dramatic moments. Dialogue can be used to add tension and emotion.
6) Are you using too much history and backstory? All of this is important, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be part of the final story. Your reader wants action, not every detail of every little step leading up to the crucial point. When your character wakes up in the morning, it doesn’t need to be written about unless it somehow adds to the story. Same for when your character goes to the bathroom or gets a phone call. If the event doesn’t add to your story or keep the story moving, leave it out.
7) Are you trying to write a story where your character just wakes up one day and decides to change his life? It won’t work. Your story will come across as totally unbelievable and false. There has to be something that happened to your character, some event in his life or some event in the life of someone close to him that made him decide to change the way he lives or does things.
People normally don’t change just for the heck of it. Before you begin to write your story, be sure that you know the event that made your character decide to change his life.
8) Is the conflict in your story at a slow, steady simmer instead of a raging boil? Have you lost sight of how to escalate the tension? Has the conflict slowed down to a mere crawl? If so, you need something to get your story moving. Do something unexpected - throw in something totally unexpected. Have a zombie rise up out of the ground and try to eat one of your characters! If nothing happens to keep your reader interested, if there is nothing vital at stake for your character, then your story could be in trouble.
How can you make the conflict pick up some speed? Your character could win the lottery. Her fiancé could turn out to be a deranged serial killer. The seemingly innocent neighbor, who happens to be running for mayor, could be the head of a gang that has been terrorizing the neighborhood. Don’t lose your reader by putting him to sleep.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lisa Binion. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lisa Binion for details.
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