The temptation to over-simplify secondary characters, especially bad guys, hits me every time I write…
Last Thursday was a bad writing day. After lunch, I threw my hands in the air and suppressed a scream. I knew where the story needed to go, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. I had several scenes to write before my next “sure” scene. Everything inside me wanted to open a browser and get lost in Pinterest or Facebook or my Twitter feed, but that’s a no-no during my writing time.
I sat there. My eyes glazed over looking at the blinking cursor.
I will NOT have a soggy middle. I’m not going to write something boring just to meet my word count goal.
Soggy middles…I shuddered.
What could I do to tease the reader to continue reading?
What story questions remained unanswered?
I swiped a piece of scrap paper and jotted down all the story threads I hadn’t wrapped up at that point in the manuscript. There were a LOT of loose ends, but I couldn’t tie them up yet or the end of the book would be ruined.
So I popped a butterscotch candy in my mouth and thought for a while.
Real life is messy. We don’t always get neat answers tied up in a bow. Instead we make impressions based on information we gather. Why shouldn’t it be the same for my characters?
I quickly brainstormed ways to provide the characters with answers that weren’t necessarily true. Two scenes jumped in my head to introduce misinformation to one character while conflicting information was presented to the other one.
Not only were the scenes fun to write, they make the book more fun for readers. They know two different answers exist for the same story question, and they can come to their own conclusion. This teases them to keep reading…to find out if they were right.
If you’re slogging through the middle of a story and not sure how to get from one major plot point to another, think about the story questions you’ve introduced.
- Can you make the characters think they have a problem figured out while giving the reader clues the characters are wrong?
- If you answer one story question, can you introduce another immediately?
- If you’re not ready to answer a story question, can you lead the characters to believe they’re close to having the problem solved even if they aren’t?
How do you tease readers to continue your book? And how do you combat the dreaded soggy middle? I’d love to hear your strategies!
Happy Valentines Day!!