5 Common Story Problems with Simple Fixes

Our stories are often plagued with these common story problems, but if we don’t know how to fix them, we’ll never improve our writing. It’s important that you remember you don’t need to scrap your novel if you keep having the same issues over and over again. Hopefully this list will help you pinpoint what’s going on and provide ways for you to improve your novel.

Problem: Unmotivated Characters

If you’re having trouble figuring out where your story should go next, the problem could be with unmotivated characters. Characters aren’t in your novel just so you can push them around every once in a while and make them do things. They need to develop over time and keep your story going in the right direction.


Work on your character’s wants, goals, and motivations. You need to figure out what’s driving your character if you want them to do anything. Where do they want to end up? What’s standing in their way? What’s their plan? Who will help them? Think about everything your character will need to do to resolve your novel. Focus on what they want and what motivates their actions and your characters will stop being dull and lifeless.

Problem: Boring First Chapters

A boring first chapter is dangerous because you want to captivate your audience right away. You don’t want to lose readers just because of this, but sometimes it happens.  You should give enough information to keep your readers interested, while also keeping them intrigued enough to figure out what happens next.


Putting emotion into your scenes from the beginning will not only help set the tone, but we’ll get an immediate understanding of your world. The best advice I can give is to construct a scene that helps us best understand your character. If they’re on the run, show us that they’re being chased. If they’re sad and lonely, construct a scene that lets us feel their isolation. You don’t necessarily need to open your book with action, but you do need to introduce the conflict. Think about what your character wants and go from there. Think of your first chapter as an introduction to an essay. You don’t go right into the points immediately, but you set us up for something good.

Problem: Plot Holes

Writers worry about forgetting to include important information in their novel that’s necessary to the plot. If you’re discovering that readers often point out plot holes in your story, maybe it’s time to reevaluate how you plan your novel.


Pre-planning or prewriting your novel often solves any plot hole problems. If you take the time to write out important scenes so you don’t forget them, your story will become stronger. However, if you’re not someone who likes to do so much planning, you can tackle plot holes during the editing phase. Take notes when you’re editing so that you can catch these plot holes and figure out where you can add necessary information. A plot hole does not always mean your novel needs loads of reworking, but it is something you need to take the time to fill in.

Problem: Poor Pacing

Poor pacing can ruin a novel, but luckily it’s something you can tackle head on before you even start writing your story. Good pacing helps add tension to your novel and helps you make sure there’s enough rising and falling action to keep your story interesting.


Planning out your novel ahead of time also helps solve pacing problems. You can create a timeline that helps you keep track and plan out when you want certain things to happen. Read up on story arcs and try to plan out your scenes accordingly. If you’re already done with your novel and you notice poor pacing, try rearranging scenes or spreading out the action.

Problem: Info-Dumping

A very common writing problem is info-dumping. This is when you tell your readers loads of information at a time without showing them anything important. Info-dumps usually occur in first chapters of novels, but they can happen anytime during the course of your story. Info- dumps can drag down your story and bore your readers.


Cut out long paragraphs where you explain what’s going on in your novel and show your readers instead. Avoid over explaining things that can be explained through action. Letting your audience figure things out instead is a much more satisfying reading experience and it lets your readers connect with your characters on a deeper level.

-Kris Noel

21 Recommended Books for Writers

As I’ve talked about on my blog several times, an important part of growing as a writer is learning about writing. For years I’ve wanted to compile a list of writing books I’ve read, liked, and recommend. Today I’m happy to say I now have that list to add to my blog (perfect timing for anyone who likes summer reading). I’m sure over time, this list will be added to.

Many writers I’ve talked to have read quite a few of these books. How many have you read? And is there one I need to look into? (You can comment at the bottom).

If you haven’t read any of them, cool. Now you have a list to chose from should you ever want to.

Hundreds of books have been written on the art of writing. Here at last is a book by two professional editors to teach writers the techniques of the editing trade that turn promising manuscripts into published novels and short stories.

In this completely revised and updated second edition, Renni Browne and Dave King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited.


What makes a good story or a screenplay great?

The vast majority of writers begin the storytelling process with only a partial understanding where to begin. Some labor their entire lives without ever learning that successful stories are as dependent upon good engineering as they are artistry. But the truth is, unless you are master of the form, function and criteria of successful storytelling, sitting down and pounding out a first draft without planning is an ineffective way to begin.

Story Engineering starts with the criteria and the architecture of storytelling, the engineering and design of a story–and uses it as the basis for narrative. The greatest potential of any story is found in the way six specific aspects of storytelling combine and empower each other on the page. When rendered artfully, they become a sum in excess of their parts.


Bestselling author David Farland has taught dozens of writers who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).

In this book, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership, giving it the potential to become a bestseller. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors go on to prominence.


How do you create a main character readers won’t forget? How do you write a book in multiple-third-person point of view without confusing your readers (or yourself)? How do you plant essential information about a character’s past into a story?

Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by award-winning author Nancy Kress answers all of these questions and more! This accessible book is filled with interactive exercises and valuable advice that teaches you how to:

   Choose and execute the best point of view for your story
   Create three-dimensional and believable characters
   Develop your characters’ emotions
   Create realistic love, fight, and death scenes
   Use frustration to motivate your characters and drive your story.


The road to rejection is paved with bad beginnings. Agents and editors agree: Improper story beginnings are the single biggest barrier to publication. Why? If a novel or short story has a bad beginning, then no one will keep reading. It’s just that simple.

In Hooked, author Les Edgerton draws on his experience as a successful fiction writer and teacher to help you overcome the weak openings that lead to instant rejection by showing you how to successfully use the ten core components inherent to any great beginning.

Plus, you’ll discover exclusive insider advice from agents and acquiring editors on what they look for in a strong opening. With Hooked, you’ll have all the information you need to craft a compelling beginning that lays the foundation for an irresistible story!


Keep reading

katsukinks-deactivated20170617  asked:

Hi! I have trouble with sentence flow. Like when I write something and read it afterwards, the order of the paragraphs don't really add up. It causes an awkward jumping to one topic to another. Any tips? :)


Flow is an interesting concept. Most people can identity good flow or bad flow when they see it, and yet it’s so hard to define the elements that make it so. 

There is also the matter of deciding where the problem with the flow is happening, since flow could be referring to several different things. It could be:

1. Sentence flow: How each sentence sounds, and whether or not they make sense in the order that they are in. 

2. Paragraph flow: How each paragraph connects to the next, and whether or not they make sense in the order that they are in.

3. Conceptual flow: How each idea connects to the next, and whether or not they make sense in the order that they are in.

And then, for each of those things, there is the matter of whether or not some of those elements need to be there at all, or whether they are just slowing down or confusing the rest of the scene.

I know you state sentence flow, but the rest of the question makes it sound more paragraph or even conceptual. For your benefit and for the sake of being thorough and a little bit Extra ™ , I’ll briefly go over some tips for all three potential issues. Due to the fact that it’ll probably be long I’m gonna do a Read More.

Keep reading

That last post is a really good example of something that is totally accurate but that I wouldn’t want people searching me professionally—like for a hiring committee—to find.

It’s completely accurate but it also highlights one of my biggest weaknesses, which I would like to paper over rather than point out.

(It also seems to have way too many emdashes, but that’s a common Jadagul writing problem).

anonymous asked:

Hey sorry if I'm bothering you but I just wanted some help. Actually I'm writing a story which is set in Delhi, India and I want to avoid stereotypes. So like is there a way to go about it. also I have notice that I tend to go overboard with descriptions and the dialogues are minimum. I feel that I can't connect with my characters that way. So any help on that? Thank you

You’re not bothering me at all! Thank you for the question. Here are some resources I found about writing a character from India, and of course the section on stereotypes is to know what to avoid; if you know the stereotypes and offenses, you’ll have quite an easier time avoiding them. 

Writing An Indian Character:

Common Stereotypes To Avoid:

As for dialogue, believe it or not, the struggle is a common problem for many writers. In fact, it’s probably one of the most common writing problems. Dialogue can feel forced or strained, mostly because writing is so vastly different from speaking. Just take a moment to read a descriptive paragraph of your favorite book–pretty right? Well, most days, we don’t speak like that. What you’re going to need to do is to force yourself into a situation where you do hear dialogue; go to a park, sit around family or friends, and just take notes of their voices, mannerisms, and words. Sentences aren’t flowing and well-crafted when they’re spur of the moment; reading your dialogue out loud later on can help you to see if what you’ve written sounds natural. 

Honestly, I know the struggle; I can write four paragraphs of my characters’ internal feelings, feel that I know them inside and out, and struggle for an hour over a two word bit of dialogue. How a person speaks is different than how a person feels, but each person has their way of “being.” What you need to do is sit down with your character, map out their personality, their past, their attitude, and decide how that will play out into their dialogue. For example, I’m writing a character who was ignored often as a child, always feeling that he had to prove himself to get attention, so now he speaks too much; he’s loud, he’s crass, he speaks with his hands, and he generally doesn’t shut up because people will stop noticing him if he’s quiet. Dialogue often times, doesn’t define who we are, but who we want the world to think that we are and who we want to be. What does your character want? What does their persona look like? How do they want the other characters in your story to see them? 

In the meantime, here are a few resources I hope will help:

This may sound weird, but I love that Sarah J Maas writes about common place problems for women in her books.

Like in ToG, Celaena gets her period and it makes her sick. Like I don’t know how many young adult novels, if any, even really address women and periods. And Celaena is over there in the corner like, “this fucking sucks ass!”

And then in CoM when her and Chaol start having sex, she’s like “well, now I have to get birth control because you know…babies.”

Like, in the media and mainstream novels, it seems like stuff like that is not even thought about. Its just like kinda glossed over and added in when someone becomes pregnant but not really discussed in day to day occurrences. 

Thank you SJM, for showing us even assassins/fire-breathing-bitch-queen hate their period

anonymous asked:

Hi Carrie! So, you always seem super nice and helpful when people ask you questions, so I was wondering if you would mind helping me? I have all these sterek fic ideas, and I kinda want to write some but... I've never really written anything before. I've tried a couple of times and I just didn't really like what came of it. But it's been ages and I really want to try again. I was wondering if you have any advice or resources for first time writers?

Sure thing! If you have an idea and you want to write it, I would say go for it! Even if you haven’t written anything before–or say you have, since it sounds like you’ve gotten started already but aren’t counting any of your efforts. Don’t throw anything away just yet! Just because you might not like it doesn’t mean that it’s bad– we’re all works in progress. Remember, you can always come back and edit your something, but you can’t edit something you haven’t written. If you’re nervous about it, ask a friend for feedback and for them to help you with constructive criticism. Or find a beta who can do that:

As Ms. Frizzle on the Magic School Bus says, “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!” Every effort you put in is worth it to help you become a better writer.

Here are some resources:

I hope this helps, and good luck!

anonymous asked:

Do you ever get writer's block? How do you cope with it / beat it into cowering submission?

I get writer’s block all the time! Here are some of the things I do to work around it:

  • Close the current blocked project and work on another project. (This is why I have so many WIP’s going at once, sorry.)
  • Take a break, leave the computer, stretch, eat some food, take a walk, come back to the project.
  • Ask a friend to read what I currently have and ask for input/feedback on where to go from here.
  • Pick a character I’m writing about, put a song on at random, and create a music video in my head starring them in the song. 
  • Scroll through the fic prompt tag for ideas. 
  • Just write, don’t aim for perfection. You can always edit later, and you can’t edit a nothing.

Here are more resources: