Story-fixing Your Novel––Part V

plottingThis week, we’ll talk about escalation and how to fix some issues having to do with get the snowball down the mountain. It’s picking up speed, gaining momentum, and it will eventually become an avalanche. This is what needs to happen with your story. Click to Tweet #amwriting #storyfixing

avalancheUsing the avalanche as an example, here’s what to look for in your text.

  1. Promise early that an avalanche will occur. The avalanche shouldn’t come out of nowhere. You need to build tension. Maybe a seismologist sees a fault running through a glacier. No one will believe him as he tries to warn of the avalanche that’s coming.
  2. Start small, get big. Have tension from the beginning, but don’t insert too much at the beginning or there weren’t be anywhere for your story to go. Conflict is all about escalating tensions.
  3. Show readers the village at the base of the mountain. These guys are oblivious, but allude to the danger that’s on its way.
  4. Stay on one mountain. Don’t add random setbacks. Once you know your protagonist’s basic struggle, the one introduced at the beginning of the story, deepen it.
  5. Include some skiers trying to outrun the avalanche. Put those characters in peril. Bring the danger close to the characters you’ve introduced in your story.
  6. Let the villagers try to solve things, but fail. There are all kinds of things you can do here. Be creative and keep to the main disaster of the story.
  7. Steepen the slope. Everything is worse than the villagers thought it was. More than one section of mountain tumbles. The avalanche picks up more speed. The villagers may not evacuate in time.
  8. Throw in a blizzard. Nothing beats a weather event to bring a monkey wrench into things. The villagers lose all hope of riding out the storm, and there is no way of escape. How will they survive?

Whatever you come up with, use a variety of schemes, mistakes, attempts, setbacks, and ideas. This shows creativity and can help with story.

As the action escalates, so should the protagonist’s emotions. But you don’t want your hero to wimp out, whine, or otherwise show weakness.

Quick Fix

Take a scene that seems to stall. Promise more pain, danger, reminding readers of how close that danger is right now. Insert an obstacle that the character must avoid. As you get closer to the climax, use shorter paragraphs and sentences, avoiding unfamiliar words that might trip up your readers.

Work on these things to escalate your tension. Bring the danger closer and closer until it’s upon your protagonist. Show the struggles and create your disaster. Click to Tweet #amwriting #storyfixing

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