One of the hardest things to remember in any part of your life is to stop and return to the beginning. Think about it for a moment: You’re deep within a plot of a story you began with so much excitement. You’re staring at the words but you get frustrated because something isn’t right. Maybe the characters are flat, your protagonist isn’t doing what (s)he’s supposed to, or perhaps you can’t figure out where to go next.
Any of this sound familiar?
When I mentor, one of the things I try to convey is how to keep connecting things. Connections are a constant reminder to your reader. It says, “Hey, pay attention”, and it gives tiny fireworks of moments to the readers mind.
They don’t have to be big things. It may be a secret thought, something subtle and delicate, connecting your character and the reader. But it makes the connection personal and intimate, and in turn, unforgettable.
It can also create a three dimensional version of your character, allowing the suspension of believability to become stronger.
Example: Your character seems to know a lot for their age.
Go back to step one. The character knows a lot because…?
- Maybe they were a gifted student
- One of their parents taught them things at an advanced level due to their own level of expertise
- They were part of an experiment which enhanced their learning capabilities
- They are supernatural (vampire, werewolf, etc)
Do you see how it gives opportunity for storytelling? You know these things about your character. Now you have to create this for the reader without a boring info dump.
Which is more engaging?
Marie was smarter than most girls at her school. She was always getting A’s without ever studying.
Marie glanced at the page. Her father taught her to speed read as a child, allowing her to take in more information at a rapid rate. She smiled when she overheard her classmates making up wild stories of how she never studied.
In the second example we are in on the secret. We know Marie’s dad taught her to speed read, she enjoyed the speculation from her classmates, and it increases our perception of who Marie really is.
When I write, I like to create time lines. When your eye has a guide, it stays focused. I know where my story starts and where it ends. Everything between must connect the two points. If I get stuck, I slide back to step one.
Who is my main character?
What is the connection between the main character and the story?
What is the conflict?
What is the resolution?
Asking these questions will always circle you back to the beginning. Knowing your roots is only the first part. Letting them expand and settle into the earth is a skill we can all learn.
If this article has helped, please pass it on and comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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