It happens to every writer. The story goes off track, so our characters start talking out of line. Now, not the kind of talking that leads to amazing plot decisions. We all know characters can and will do things without asking permission. I had one decide he could sing like Andrea Bocelli. Another jumped off the second floor of a parking garage. Both worked to my favor.
No, I’m talking about the kind of conversations that sound more like our laziness. We didn’t want to go back and fix what went wrong, so we tried to convince the reader it wasn’t wrong at all by poking in little hints using dialogue or backstory.
Case in point: John meets Jane, but (plot problem) John’s an alien. Jane’s parents don’t approve of inter-space alliances, so insert tension at home. Probably, John and Jane will argue over it, and Jane will run off crying. Insert several angsty chapters where they pine for each other. Then, because I believe in happy endings, they’ll kiss and make up with Mom and Dad coming around to see it doesn’t matter that John has blue skin.
That’s doable and believable.
But what if I get off point and suddenly there’s an unplanned alien love child. Whoops. Not the worst plot choice, but if Jane starts making excuses for it. She loves John. They’re meant to be together despite the fact they’re seventeen. Suddenly Jane’s excuses sound like the author’s excuses and not Jane’s dialogue at all.
DON’T DO THAT.
Your characters should always stay in character. Every time they open their mouths, you should ask yourself if it fits with their behavior. If it doesn’t, rewrite it. There is no reason to release a story when you know something is wrong with it.
And, for heaven’s sake, don’t use word count as a reason to justify poor plot choices because THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE PERFECT STORY LENGTH. A story’s length is decided by the final action. What happens in it should be tied up in such a way that the reader is satisfied, whether that’s 20k or 100k.
JUST WRITE and let the length fall wherever it should be.
A friend told me she didn’t want to write a lot of stories, but a handful of really good stories. There’s something to be said for that mentality, even for me, a prolific writer. I’ve found what I’ve written recently took way more out of me than what I wrote early on because I stopped making excuses for things I should have fixed. Today, no matter how long it takes to write one scene, I hang in there until it’s right.
This makes me say something that goes against all the writing rules. The rules say: Don’t edit as you go. But I’m going to encourage you to do the opposite. Try writing one scene and writing it well before you move on. This is a good habit, which will help you become a better writer. By fixing your mistakes first, you’ll find you don’t make as many the next time and, subsequently, don’t have to fix plot problems you shouldn’t have had in the first place.
Also, THINK ABOUT what you write AS you write it, and if you don’t know what to do with that scene, then WAIT and work on something else. It will come to you at four a.m. or in the shower or while you wash the dishes and be much better for your mental effort.
Because the sign of a good writer is in more than number of sales. I’ve seen writers with lots of sales that pen lousy books. A GOOD WRITER can do more than craft a story. They craft a story WELL, not making excuses for sloppy mistakes.
Who was this boy that could stop a bullet with the palm of his hand? And why had someone wanted to kill him?
Headed north to Washington D.C. aboard the wrong bus, Phoebe Faegen turns for help from the handsome boy seated on her left. But his instructions are strange from the start and his ability to stop a shooting with just the palm of his hand, when they arrive at their destination, too much to be believed.
Yet, life in this altered future is too dangerous to risk as a girl living on her own and so drawn into the mystery that is superhuman, Crowne Dawkins, she descends Underground into a world that with every second that passes grows more and more dangerous.
Nothing is what it seems, not her existence or his, not the threats to their lives, or the one final, horrible moment which might destroy their future forever.
A wild ride into science fiction romance, book 1 of 5, from best-selling author, SUZANNE D. WILLIAMS.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Best-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.
To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit http://www.feelgoodromance.com or link with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SDWAuthor .