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Archive for the ‘Writer’s Block’ Category

The Confidence to Throw Something Away

Monday, August 9th, 2010

At one time, writers were known for staying up all night, typing away at a typewriter or scratching away with a pen, surrounded by crumpled-up paper.

These writers knew one thing:  if they threw an attempt away, they had the confidence to write something even better.

I found myself thinking about this romanticized vision of a writer as I worked on my current novel this week.  I’d been struggling with a particular section for almost a week — rewriting it over and over, trying to see if I could get it to work.

Suddenly, it came to me:  the reason that I was struggling was that the piece didn’t fit.  I was trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

I pulled out a few of the elements that I wanted to capture with that section, and sprinkled them into the sections before and after.  After I then cut out the trouble section, everything suddenly fit.

Since then, I’ve only felt better about the decision.  Never have I felt so good about throwing something away.

The moral of the story is:  if you’re really struggling with a section, ask yourself if it’s really necessary, or if there’s another way to incorporate the ideas into your story.  The reason you’re struggling might be that the piece simply doesn’t fit.

How Do I Make My Story Longer?

Monday, January 18th, 2010

From time to time, I am asked for general strategies to make a manuscript or short story longer, without boring the reader.

The writers who ask this question aren’t trying just to increase the word count of their manuscript, but instead feel like their story is missing something. However, these writers aren’t sure how to coax the additional details from their story.

I usually suggest rereading your story with your readers in mind. As a reader, what am I likely to find interesting next? Are there opportunities for adding a bit more backstory to help your readers understand why a particular character makes a specific decision?

Look at your plot. Is there any missing time? How does a reader know what’s happened?

Is there an interesting character you’d like to spend more time with? Go ahead and do so…after all, it’s your story.

Finally, sometimes your story has just come to its natural end. If you feel that you’ve done all you can to improve your story, then it may be time to submit your manuscript to an editing service (such as the editing service here at WritAnon) or a set of beta readers to get their take on the story.

Editing services or beta readers can often help you find holes in your plot or identify opportunities to further explore an interesting character or concept.

What other ideas do you have to make your story longer, without making it boring? Comment below!

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