constructed scene

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


Stranger Things Seven Day Challenge:

Day Four - Favorite Song(s) from the Soundtrack

Punk (Chap. 8)

Summary: You’re head over heels for your best friend Bucky and hate the nickname he gave you as it doesn’t exactly scream romance.

Word count: 4284…oops

Warnings: Same as always

A/N: Okay here it is chapter 8.  Let me know if the flow of this chapter is okay, if it makes sense.  I’d like to get a better feel of how I construct scenes so I can improve for the future.  I LOVE feedback, you have no idea.  So don’t be afraid to lemme know how you feel!

Also, there is a line in here with an asterisk (*) after it.  It is a paraphrase from Criminal Minds season 3 episode 8 said by Penelope Garcia to Derek Morgan and it is something that has always stuck with me and I just thought it was so perfect for this chapter.

Perhaps watching Investigation Discovery’s documentary on the world’s most notorious serial killers at one o’clock in the morning while finishing off the leftover apple pie in an essentially deserted tower wasn’t the smartest move.  Every sound was suddenly more sinister and every shadow could be hiding a deranged murderer who wanted nothing more than to chop off your head and keep it in the freezer, which had startled you so badly when it spit out ice cubes into its inner bin that you spilled an entire glass of water on Ferdinand who ran shrieking from the room and knocked over what was probably a very expensive vase. Fuck.

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How to Write an Engaging First Chapter

I probably get this question every day, so I think it’s about time I did a post on it. Many writers are concerned with writing their first chapters and they have trouble figuring out what they should include and what they should leave out until later.

When you’re submitting a manuscript in order to get an agent or find a publisher, it’s important that you hook them from the opening paragraph. A lot of agents have admitted that sometimes they ONLY read the first few sentences and if they’re not intrigued, they won’t read the rest of it. That might sound cruel, but why should they continue to read something that they think is boring when there are so many other stories in their “slush pile” to read? You need to engage the reader right from the beginning if you want them to care about your novel.

I learned this the hard way. The first few stories I wrote lacked an engaging opening. I think the best way to learn is to revisit some of your favorite books. Most of the time, they had something that caught your attention right away. There was something to it that made you keep reading. You need to make sure you have “that thing” in your own novel.

Here are the dos and don’ts of writing an engaging opening hook:


Construct a scene that best represents your character

I’m not going to tell you there’s a wrong and right way to open your novel, because it really all depends on your novel. You need to know your character before you can begin writing your story, so only you will know how you should start it off. 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.

Help set the scene

The first chapter is a good time to explore the setting of your novel. You’re not going to use this chapter to completely describe your world, but you need to give your readers a taste of it. Use all your senses to present the setting to us. What does your character feel? Are they afraid? Are they happy? Are they cautious? 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.

Introduce only important information

The first chapter is not the time to give us a long, drawn-out explanation of your world and characters. You need to find the simplest and most exciting way to get information across to your readers, so that they’ll be hooked from the beginning. Get your audience to care about your story. Don’t drag it down with details that don’t matter yet. 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.


Describe your main character in detail

We don’t need to know everything about your main character in the first chapter. We don’t need to know everything about what they look like, their best friends, how they would describe themselves in the mirror, etc. If you want to do these things, they’re best left for later chapters. Your readers do not need to know everything from the beginning to get into your story. Give them a taste and draw them in.

Give long explanations

When writing a scene, it’s easy to get caught up in everything that you want to talk about all at once. You have to remember that you’ll have time to explain things later and it will probably be much more interesting if your readers have to wait. You don’t need to mention everything that’s happening and why it’s important. Present the information in the most engaging way possible and avoid these long explanations. We don’t need you main character to make a page long speech in the first chapter of your novel.

Fill your readers with unnecessary back story

Again, too much back story in your first chapter will kill your momentum. Anything that’s unnecessary to know from the beginning can be put off until later. I know it’s exciting to get into the meat of your novel, but your readers have to care about your world and characters before you keep talking about it. Don’t be afraid to cut something or push something back to later chapters. You’ll also improve the pacing of your novel if you keep these things in mind.

It’s super important to remember that all of these things won’t apply to every novel. There are times when the opening of your novel will break all these rules and there will be exceptions to every single one of them. However, if you keep getting feedback that people “can’t get into your novel”; it might be because your first chapter is weak. Also, if you’re having trouble with your first chapter and can’t seem to get it right, leave it for later. You can always go back and change something if you don’t love it.

I finished Call Me By Your Name last night. I don’t know where to begin. This book fucked me up on every conceivable level. The plot is elegant and tightly constructed with no scene wasted; characters are richly drawn and the voice agonizingly true; stylistically, it’s breathtaking. I had to put it down at one point because the prose LITERALLY TOOK MY BREATH AWAY.  I didn’t just read this book, I lived inside it, experiencing all of Elio’s feelings: his desire, his anxiety, his shame, his sorrow. 

I read the book in two sittings, both times stopping when the title was invoked: “call me by your name”. The first time this line appears, it’s like a drug. I felt elated after reading that scene and went to bed at 4am with heart palpitations. (Yes, this book almost fucking killed me). When these words are echoed at the very end of the novel, it’s with profound melancholy and I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. No, I’m not being dramatic. I was in physical and emotional distress.  


I wonder if this novel is so affecting, not because Elio and Oliver didn’t stay together but because we know that if they did, their relationship wouldn’t have held the same meaning for them–that meaning is shaped by loss. The greater the loss, the greater the meaning. Another thing that struck me was Elio’s father’s take on the relationship. He recognized how rare and precious their bond was, even if it was just for a few fleeting summer weeks. (Oh God I’m crying again). Elio and Oliver really truly understood each other, inhabited each other, became each other, and I don’t think I appreciated just how rare that is until Aciman brought it to life on the page. And that is, I think, ultimately the saddest part of the book–that we’re lucky to experience a connection like this once in our lives, that most people don’t experience it at all. 

In short, I’m emotional. 


And I see war on the screen
And it is cruel and unclean

Development Update #14 *important*

Hey folks!  Not to lessen the importance of other development updates, but if you’re going to look through any of the updates, this is one that shouldn’t be missed.  The first half of the update will be structured like a normal update, and the second half contains an official delay announcement and a bit about why the game is delayed + why game delays occur in general.  So, without further ado–

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The creaking of leather under his solid frame is somehow the sound that you hear most clearly as you get up and kneel in front of him, though the quick beating of your own heart takes a close second place. Having a Dom like Joonmyun constantly leaves you on edge, wondering whether he’ll be soft and comforting or construct a scene that leaves you sore, bruised, and whimpering. Today, his eyes are cold and dark as you kneel submissively in front of him. Will he drip hot wax on your back, making you cringe and whine? Will he have you restrained against the bedframe with vibrators pressed against every sensitive spot on your skin? Will he bring you to your edge ten times before he finally lets you come? When he stands up and walks over to you, his hand brushes softly over your collar - the one he had picked out especially for you to show your commitment and his ownership. Your heartrate picks up and you swear he can hear it as he smirks and stares down at you. “Get on the bed.”

- Admin J