Lessons from my Exboyfriends’s Novels: Part 3

Long overdue, I admit. I had written Writer’s Disorders #6, 7 and 8 long ago, so here they are.

Writer’s Disorder #6: Failing to plan the middle of your novel

My ex had a great set up to his novel, and the ending was filled with action.

But the middle was, much like Lord of the Rings, was filled with a lot of walking… but unlike Lord of the Rings, it lack pretty much any development.

The Cure: Use a plot board.

I wrote about this in another post HERE. I had already finished the 3rd draft of my novel and I was getting ready to send it out to publishers or publish on Kindle. But I found a post on Pinterest about plotting out your novel, and I realized that the plot of my novel had some major holes, and some of the important parts were in the wrong place.

By focusing on raising the stakes, incorporating failures, and developing sub-plots, the middle of my book is starting to feel just as action-packed as the beginning and end.

You should check it out.

Writer’s Disorder #7: Scientific descriptions

This one was a huge pet-peeve of mine then, and it still is now. I loathe reading descriptions like, “The hall was so large it was nearly the height of ten men.” While being engrossed in a story, I do not want to have to pause the flow to try to figure out how tall “ten men” stacked on top of each other would be. Is he describing “cathedral in Europe”-big, or “Cowboy’s Stadium”-big?

The Cure: Tell your readers how it feels to stand in the expansive hall. Does it echo? Can you make out the faces of the people on the other side of the hall? Does it make you feel small? Awestruck?

Part of the flow of reading of reading a great novel (read my post here on flow) is that you are so engrossed in the story that you lose sense of the “outside world”. You become the main character. It’s part of what draws us to novels and stories to begin with.

To create that flow, we can’t disrupt the line with mundane descriptions. Other things can disrupt flow, like out-of-character action, excessive wordiness, unclear dialogue, and more. If you move your focus from what is happening in a given scene to how a character feels, where to prioritize your writing should become clearer.

Writer’s Disorder #8: It’s not memorable

Sure, there are a lot of books that I have read over the years that I cannot remember much of. But my ex’s book—I remember the things I disliked (as evident here in this post.) I remember basically nothing about the plot or characters.

The Cure: Make it Unique

Yeah, it’s a vague answer that will undoubtedly elicit frustration. But it’s going to be different for every writer, for ever book. Let me explain.

For me, the memorable books, the good ones… there was something that stuck with me. From “A Wrinkle in Time” I remember distinctly the one fairy folding her skirt to demonstrate how you can travel through space-time. As a ten year old, that concept blew me away. I remember the entire plot from “Bridge to Terabithia”—one of my favorites, even though I read it in 4th grade. The vivid imagery and the close friendship the main character developed made me relate the book to my own life. Not a lot happened in the book, but it was so vivid to make it memorable. “The World According to Garp” stuck with me since high school—I was not very sexually developed until my early twenties, and I remember being shocked by the detailed descriptions.

A book can help you learn something new, or it can help you relate to something you already know. Whether it’s your deep characters that the reader relates to, or the witty, biting dialogue, or the gripping plot. Find your own unique strength and reflect that in your writing.

Personally, I’m still new enough of a writer that I’m still finding my strengths. And fixing my weaknesses, of course. I believe my strengths lie in empathy—I find it very easy to relate to other people and characters, even the bad guys. I like unearthing people’s true motivation and deepest fears, insecurities, and lies they tell themselves and others. That is something that I hope to make memorable about my novel.

What’s yours?

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