Story-fixing Your Novel––Part IV

plottingThis time we’re talking about setbacks. How can hindrances, hold-ups, delays, impediments, and obstructions to your protagonist can actually help move your story along? Click to Tweet #amwriting #story-fixing

There are three kinds of roadblocks to your protagonist, and you’re going to want to exploit all three kinds in your novel.

  1. Emotional: your protagonist can’t find peace, the answer(s), or hope they desperately need in order to continue the pursuit.
  2. Physical: villain escapes, the plan blows up, the hero gets wounded.
  3. Relational: misunderstandings, external pressures, broken promises (not to the readers, the characters to each other), relationships are plagued.

pen-and-padQuick Fix

Rather than give your protagonist small victories to build on, move the story forward by creating a series of setbacks and defeats that incrementally lead toward more discouragement and hopelessness. May your hero fail his way forward. Gee, I wish that could be true in real life.

Fine-Tuning Your Manuscript

  • Is there a dead-end? Do the characters find a detour? How will that affect the story’s flow? Have your revisions in mind as you work.
  • Do the hindrances bring the story to a crashing halt? Could things be re-routed? How can I use overlapping promises and dip into the three realms of struggles (internal, eternal, and interpersonal) to solve it?
  • What does the protagonist want to achieve? Will the readers identify with the goal? Can they cheer for the hero? If not, how can you reshape the character’s desires so readers can relate on a deeper personal level?
  • Have the action and tension escalated? Is there a setback on every page, something to drive the character toward their goal? What’s keeping the heroine from reaching her objective?
  • What techniques are you primarily using for escalation? Scenes and dialogue, exposition, description? Using misunderstandings is a better way that explanation for moving the story forward.

Keep tension and escalate your story through introducing one character setback after another. It will not only improve the character’s “character”, but will advance the story as well. Click to Tweet. #amwriting #story-fixing

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