I wanted to add to my previous
list, so here are a few more common story problems. Here are some ways to
fix those problems that plague many writers during the process:
Problem: Too Short
If you’re like me, I usually always come up short with my
word count. I target maybe 70,000 words for a YA novel, but sometimes only come
up with 55,000-60,000. It’s important that you are able to reach a specific
word count if you want to submit to an agent or publisher and the length could
have an impact on the pacing of your story.
Write your story first and try to not focus entirely on word
count. It’s great to have a goal in mind and an outline to go with it, but just
try to get your first draft down first. You can read through your first draft,
decide what sections/scenes can be enhanced, and you’ll easily drive up your
word count while also improving your story. Write first, edit later.
Problem: Flat Antagonists
I think we’ve all read a story with a flat antagonist. They
seem more like a cardboard cut-out of a villain than an actual person. They
want to be evil for the sake of being evil. Though this has been done
successfully before, their evil usually needs to have a purpose or should be explained
in some way. Sometimes it’s a great idea to make your villain relatable.
Give your antagonists motivation like you would any other
character. Flesh it out. Make sure you know them just as must as you know the
protagonist. Think of the protagonist and antagonist as opposing forces and go
from there. There should be more behind your villain than just “I want to cause
pain and destruction”. Help your readers understand their thought process.
Problem: Unmotivated Writers
We’ve talked about unmotivated characters, but what about
unmotivated writers? I get endless questions about what to do when you get
writer’s block or when you just don’t feel like finishing your novel. How do
you fix being unmotivated when it comes to finishing a project?
I know a lot of you don’t like to plan, but outlining can
sometimes help writers tremendously who have problems finishing their novels.
Your outline isn’t set in stone, but it gives you something to work off of when
you get stuck. After you’re done writing for the day, take a few minutes to
rework your outline—then you’re set for the next day! It helps so much!
Problem: Sagging Middle
Writing the opening can be exciting. Writing the ending can
be exciting. But what about the middle of your novel? Why does it seem like
writers have a hard time picking up the action in the middle? Some writers can
lose sight of the story they’re trying to tell and forget about structure.
Try to divide each part of your novel into 3 acts. The
middle of your story should have a beginning, middle, and an end. Each part should
have a purpose. Focus on building tension and plan out each step before
writing. A sagging middle can be extremely boring for both you and your readers.
Stay excited about your WIP and don’t be afraid to rework it.
Problem: Not Enough Action
Do you feel like your novel doesn’t have much to say? Maybe
you started out with an idea that hadn’t been fleshed out too much or you’re
just lost on where your novel is headed. It’s possible to tell a simple,
uncluttered story, but there needs to be action. Not explosions and chase
scenes, but something exciting for your readers needs to be happening.
Add subplots! A story with a singular focus can get dry very
fast, so considering adding in a few subplots that connect with your story. I’m
not saying add nonsense, but something that helps explain character motivations,
the plot, etc. Check out your favorite stories and try to jot down the
different plotlines that are happening. Usually there’s more than one. This should
also help with your word count if you’re not reaching it.