If you’re struggling to keep your story on track during a first draft or a revision, take a moment to write down the one thing–the feel, or theme or idea–that most inspired you to write that particular story in the first place. That’s the heart of your story. It’s the thing you most want people to carry away with them after they finish reading your story and the plumb line in every scene. By putting it into words, you’ll have a clearer idea of what choices your characters will need to make and what actions they’ll need to take in each scene to remain true to the heart of your story.
Category Archives: Practical Prompts
The more writers can put themselves into the shoes of the people populating their stories, the more authentic the characters will be to the reader. This week, try writing a scene from a POV other than your protagonist’s. Even if your novel is going to be single POV, the exercise will deepen your understanding of the supporting cast in your story, which will translate into more rounded and believable characters on the page.
When you attend a writing conference, workshop or book fair pay attention to how the established authors talk about their books. Note how they engage the audience. Do they tell you the story, how they wrote the story or a combination of both? Does the tone of their presentations match the genres of their novels? How do they project their voices and use body language to draw the audience in? Then, apply what you learned and decide how to best connect to your audience.
Often, writers struggle with telling readers how their characters feel, rather than letting them experience their joys, sorrows, frustrations and triumphs. To see whether you’re telling instead of showing, search your manuscript for typical “telling” words, such as “feel,” “think,” or “realized.”
Re-read the word in context to decide if you’re telling the reader or showing them. If you’re telling, rewrite it so the reader experiences the emotion. To learn more, check out Janice Hardy’s book, Understanding Show Don’t Tell (and Really Getting It).