A popular post from January 2010
By Julie Wright
It's a song, I Love You But You're Boring by The Beautiful South. Sometimes it's more than a song. Sometimes, it's your manuscript. Worse . . . sometimes it's mine.
So what happens when you wake up and realize you no longer love your manuscript? (well, I mean, you love it, but it's just so boring)
Do you try to figure out how to break up with it? Or do you muddle through and hope the relationship will improve with time?
I usually muddle through. Years ago, my grandma taught me that life is sweetest when you finish what you start. And by the time I get to the end and then go back through the book for edits, I can't seem to ever find that uninteresting, lacking-in-spark place where I'd fallen out of love. I know it was there, but much like a fight in real marriage, I can never seem to remember what it was about, or why it bothered me so much.
Other authors call this moment of disillusionment "The sagging middle." Usually this occurs when you've written out your original idea and come to a road block (or writer's block if it makes you feel more professional about your situation).
How do you get out of it?
-Move the plot forward.
So often we get caught up in writing the story, that we forget to write the story. If the scene you're writing isn't moving the plot forward in some way, or developing that character, you might not need that scene. And you might want to replace it with a scene that DOES move the plot forward and develops your characters.
-Build on conflicts.
Some authors get so panicked about the moment where they look at their manuscript and think, "Dude, that's boring." that they cut out the scene of conflict, assuming that it's the conflict that isn't working. But unless you're SURE the conflict is at fault, rather than cut it out, build on it. Make it stronger, deeper, scarier, richer. Put your characters in greater peril. Maybe put a traitor in their midst--something that will increase tension and conflict.
-Build your character
This ties into the other two but gets its own place on the list because this is important. You know how people are always saying garbage about trials and stress are character building? Well, don't punch them out just yet, because it's true. It's true in fiction too. By building the conflict and moving the plot forward, you force the character to act and react to the new situations. You force them to grow and make hard decisions. You build their character. People, even fictional people, with strong character are certainly NEVER boring.
So take my grandma's advice and finish what you start, even if that means muddling through something far removed from the honeymoon phase. It really is sweet to reach the finish line.