Posts and Comments.

Q: My writing group says my story lacks tension. What can I do?

A: Tension comes from dramatic conflict. Conflict comes from intense competition for a resource base – the protagonist wants something; the antagonist blocks the way. For more tension, ratchet up the evil in your antagonist. See Character Profile in The Weekend Novelist. In the blog, see motive. If you’re eager to write, use this startline: My name is… I am the killer….I made my first kill at the age of ….. in a town called…… I discovered I liked killing because….

Q: Everyone says I’m a great writer, but my story flops around. They say it goes out of focus, then comes back. How can I fix this?

A: You need to create a list of scenes, starting with your opening scene – Page One and After – stretching through the book to the climax. To create a helpful scene list, you need to name the scenes. See scenes and scene work in The Weekend Novelist, The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery, and The Weekend Novelist Rewrites the Novel. See modular scenes in this blog. When your scene list is done, lock down your key scenes: Page One and After, Plot Point One. Midpoint, Plot Point Two, Climax, Ending, and First Encounter.

Q. I’ve started five novels. All my friends really love the writing. So I make it through three or four chapters – that’s 50 pages or so – and then it runs out of gas. I’m going crazy, starting and not finishing. Can this be fixed?

A: If you’re not doing writing practice (timed writing under the clock), then start now. You can jump from page 50 to the climax. Profile the climax with the Scene Template (WN Rewrites book, WN Mystery book) and then write the scene. The climax is super-important because that’s where the hero wins and the bad guy (or girl) dies. If you kill off your hero or heroine, you are writing literature. See List of Scenes above.

Q: I’m writing a mystery, using a really super murder story pulled from real life, but when I start to write fiction, the right words refuse to come. Can you help me?

A: Try writing practice using a timer. Pull startlines (writing prompts) from your real life material – names (victim, killer, sleuth), places (crime scene, victim’s lair, etc.), the nature of the crime (gunshot, knife wound, poison, strangulation, etc). Is the killer still at large? Awaiting trial? Convicted? Executed? Did the killer escape from jail? Change the name of your detective and write some dialogue. There’s an Interview with the Killer in the Weekend Novelist Mystery book.

9 8 2010 6 22 pm