What to Do If You Hate Your Novel — A Guest Post

by Jessica Flory

It happens to everyone. You’re slogging away, page after page, filling the blank space. And then you start to wonder… Is this even worth it?

Finish, No Matter What

If you have published several times, you may have the right instincts
to know if the story is just not working. Then you can consider
putting it down before you’ve reached the end. If you’re still a new
writer, then do not stop writing.

The thing is, the middle of your novel is always going to be the worst part.

At the beginning, you’re really excited. You’re working on a new
project! At the end, you’re almost done. You can taste the success.
In the middle, though… You’re just chugging through a thick layer of
manuscript, and the end is nowhere in sight. You’re thinking that
every chapter you write sucks.

Here’s the good news – you’re probably wrong.

If you’ve planned according to story architecture, then everything is
probably just fine. Keep going. Finish that novel, no matter what.
Even if you never publish it, practicing writing a whole novel is
crucial. You need practice blending everything that makes a story into
a whole. If you give up in the middle that will never happen. You’ll
never get to practice writing an ending, and you’ll never get to see
what the complete story would’ve looked like.

So finish, no matter what.

Look at Characters and Plot

If your story isn’t working, you need to take a step back and evaluate
it. Go back to your outline. Are you following story structure? If you
can answer yes, just see the tip above.

If you can’t completely answer yes, it’s time to go back and look at
your outline again. If you’re bored with your plot, chances are that
readers will be, too.

Then take a look at your characters. No one wants to read about boring characters, let alone write about them. Look at your character’s development. How do they change over the course of the story? What are their wants, needs, thoughts? Just adding these things in can make them real and intriguing.

Take a Break

Creativity is like a well. You drain it, squeeze all the juice you can out of it, and then it’s just… dry. It takes time to refill. If you hate your novel, it could be because your creativity well is getting low.

Read a book. Eat a cookie. Do something other than write.

Try working on your novel for half an hour every day, just letting
yourself write, nonstop. Putting in half an hour every day will give
your well enough time in between writing sessions to refill.

Writing a novel is tough! Sometimes in the midst of endless pages is
easy to start wondering why you started it. These strategies can help
you remember.

How about you? What do you do to fall in love with your story again?

Jessica Flory helps authors fulfill their publishing dream with
story writing advice on her site, Storytips. She loves to
write YA SciFi and Fantasy (yep, she’s a nerd), and she took a
creative writing class from Brandon Sanderson. Be jealous.


Filed under Guest Bloggers

30 Responses to What to Do If You Hate Your Novel — A Guest Post

  1. Sara Davies

    Great post. Even if I do everything right, I will probably hate the book when it’s finished and certainly hate it at the half way mark. It’s my first. As a former visual artist, I always hated my work, so I am used to that feeling. But what visual art lacks is the element of time.

    Plotting is the most challenging thing to learn. Sequencing. The broad categories of a four-part structure are good general guidelines, but I need more help with what comes next. I need an outline that is complete, detailed, with every scene determined ahead of time. Direction, momentum, purpose, and connection from one to the next. As far as I know there are no books that talk about how to compose a story on a scene by scene basis. How do you get from one plot point to another? How do you choose? The problem is not about file cards. It’s about how to dramatize information when and where it is needed, making strategic choices for effect. Being able to visualize enough to know what information is needed before I need it. If I nail this process, I will be unstoppable.

    Beyond that – reading is good. Reading a wide range of non-fiction topics. Walking. Exposure to different kinds of ideas and experiences.

  2. Lin

    You know, the process of learning to write to publishable level has been profoundly changing on a personal level for me. My relationship to my stories, in whatever phase of development they are, is less lover than mentor. Infatuation has given way to a wariness exercised on behalf of my story’s well-being.

    That enable me to say, if I become convinced it’s so, that my idea is unpublishable. If that happens to the first novel I’m presently working on, I’ll complete it for the practice, while working up another idea.

    This is a personal change I had absolutely no way to anticipate when I began writing, but a welcome one. If I’m “in love” with a viable story idea but then fall “out of love” with it, I have no way to salvage that idea. If I have a non-emotional connection to it, I can explore the options, perhaps salvage parts of the story, but still decide it’s unworkable as a whole.

    I don’t fall in love with my stories any longer, and I’m glad of it. I’m still feveredly in love with writing, though, and I don’t expect that will ever change.

  3. This is a very timely post. I always have a problem with the middle. I have two novels and one short story that are stuck in the middle. I keep finding ways to change them, to make them “better” when what I really need to do is just get them done.

  4. MikeR

    This is my first major attempt at fiction-writing, but I am no stranger to “large scale writing,” and there are some techniques that I regularly use:

    First, start with an outline, and then, a general practice of “stepwise refinement.” Perhaps first you block-out what the overall structure of the piece is going to be (“this is the current target that I’m shooting at”). Then, instead of jumping wholesale into “Chapter X,” you first sketch it, scene by scene. I use a legal-pad and a number-two PENCIL, because I find that “there’s something different about writing long-hand.” I want to crystalize my notions of what I’m about to write, and to flush-out problems before I actually write a “final” first-draft. The pages usually wind up with quite a few penciled notes on the margins, with big arrow-lines pointing to parts of the text. Quite a mess. 🙂

    I do this because it’s economical. It’s very inefficient to try to “make ANYTHING up as you go along,” no matter what it is that you’re doing. Instead, “sneak-up on it.” There’s more than one way to write anything … try to identify it before you do it. If you’re not sure which way to go, describe both ideas in your diary (below).

    Second, I keep a notepad beside me when I write, with several sharpened pencils. “An idea pops.” “I remember I forgot …” Write it down legibly. “Now, it’s been caught.” It can’t go anywhere. I can deal with it later, and check it off. That’s part of a larger “project diary” in which I note what I did each day, or thought about. If it’s “caught,” it can’t be lost, and it can be dealt with without breaking the flow. Go back and re-read the diary now and then.

    When you get an idea for a non-trivial edit: stop, write down the idea (in long-hand with that pencil), “smoke it over.” Note what portions of what files are changed. Maybe save a “before” and “after” version in the archive folder (see below).

    Third, I spend either the end of the day or the beginning of the next day, “cutting.” And I use the revision-marking proofreader features which basically “strike through” whatever I “deleted” and mark-up my changes so that they’re visible. Usually, you blather when you write, and “the most useful end of the pencil is the one with rubber on the end.” Okay, I do that, but I do it non-destructively. With a flip of a button, the edits disappear. Another flip, and here they are again. This also refreshes your mind about yesterday’s thoughts.

    I was going to add something here about “don’t trust your memory,” but I … 😉

    On drafts, I sometimes add paragraphs (in a separate “Markup” style) that are, literally, “talking to myself.” All those will eventually be removed. Maybe there are two (clearly marked-up) versions of the same paragraph or scene: write ’em both, add a “to-do” in your diary to come back and decide later. “Sneak up on the final draft,” too.

    But: DON’T EDIT =AS= YOU WRITE. I don’t think that’s possible.

    The last writing tool I have is a hierarchy of (digital) folders in which I place copies of every file as they were at the end of the day. (On a Mac, “Compress Folder,” then move the compressed (zip…) file into the archive-folder in a subfolder with today’s date.) N-O-T-H-I-N-G is “permanently lost.” Maybe I won’t use the idea; maybe I will use it later; maybe it just sucked. 🙂 But I wrote it, so it’s worth keeping. Your subconscious does many things “out-of-order,” and sometimes … “wow, I’m glad I =kept= that.”

    I have an external hard-drive on my Mac, and “Time Machine” is running 100% of the time, constantly backing-up everything about once an hour. If I finish a big piece or reach a stopping place, “Save” and then, “Back Up Now.” The little icon stops spinning and, “there… I caught it.”

  5. Sara – I definitely understand where you’re coming from! Getting from plot point to plot point can be a challenge. Here’s some things I’ve found that have worked for me: 1) Working on my outline piece by piece. I’ll set a time limit and brainstorm. Doing this helps me be more creative, and if I get stuck I’m not sitting there forever. 2) I get the outline as coherent as I can then show it to several other people (cough, like Larry, cough). Yes, it’s hard to judge pacing just from an outline, but their comments can still be useful. Hope that helps!

    Lin – I think that’s wonderful that you’ve been learning about yourself and how you write. Being in love with writing is an amazing thing 🙂

    Monique – It’s an easy problem to have! I usually come up with ways I want to change my story as I’m going, and I’m so excited about them I want to incorporate them NOW. But, I’ve found that if I finish the novel it’s much easier to go back and make those changes. Getting stuck in the middle can drag you down, and then you’ll never finish. Good luck, and keep writing!

  6. Giving up before we have the chance to fail prevents us from learning.

    If I’m bored with what I’m doing, I find something else to do. If I’m bored with what I’m writing, I do the same thing: write something different. Sometimes it’s a different project. Other times, it’s a different version of what I thought I was writing.

    I don’t believe in setting out to write a trunk novel, planning to write something unpublishable. But most of us are no judge of our own work. We often think it’s better than it is, nearly as often it’s better than we think it is. Finishing is a good way to find out.

  7. MikeR – Awesome advice! And I agree. Editing as you write will slow you way down and you’ll likely never finish that novel.

    Joel – I love what you said. It is SO hard to judge your own work. Finishing your novel and sending it out to others is a fantastic way to find out.

  8. Nailhead, meet hammer. I just got to my midpoint last week and am in this exact situation. I’ve inserted a major plot twist, and I know what my plan says is coming next, but is it really going to work? This universal “Middleitis” is a fascinating syndrome, but where does it come from? Maybe it’s because in the beginning, a possibly perfect novel is in front of you and, even with a plan, you have lots of room to maneuver. By the middle, you’re locked in and your choices are fewer. You have less than perfection behind you and the potential is more dependent on what you’ve written than what you can write. Something like that. Maybe this is what mid-life crises are all about. Mid-book crisis?

  9. Mike – Haha I love it! Mid-book crisis is a perfect way to describe it. And it’s so true, in the middle you have set up your choices and it’s difficult to deviate from that. I think that’s why story planning and optimizing those choices before you get going is soooo important. Of course, easier said than done. Thanks for your insight!

  10. Sara Davies

    What I’m hearing is:

    A lot of people struggle with the middle of a book.

    Some people plot by fiddling around until they get it right, and save all of the ideas that come up in the process (good advice – save everything).

    Others take the “it takes a village” approach and seek feedback and do not feel ashamed about asking for help, unlike me.

    What I’m looking for is something more akin to Story Physics, but on a micro-scale. I believe that anyone who has completed a book knows the process he or she used to do so – even if the choices were not analyzed or made consciously at the time. If you’ve written a book, you had a process.

    For more on the subject of plotting, I looked at John Gardner’s “The Art of Fiction,” which is one of the classic “literary” writers guides that has a lot of good advice if you don’t mind the attitude or running to the dictionary looking up words like energeic and profluence.

    Apparently, an energeic plot just means an action or goal-oriented plot. Now we know.

    Ways to go about generating one might include: determining a linear sequence of causes – *a* leads to *b* leads to *c* logically and/or chronologically. Another approach might be a process of elimination – the main character tries *a* and when that fails tries *b* and when that fails, tries *c*, etc. Or you could have a journey as a series of encounters with symbolic elements. And somewhere in there, causal relationships plus empathy and intuition.

    In Jerry Cleaver’s “Immediate Fiction” he talks about using the pattern: want, obstacle, action, resolution as a fail-safe. That helps, but again is only part of the picture.

    The pattern in most novels is that scenes begin with lower tension and end on a note of higher tension. What creates movement or momentum? Emotion? Curiosity? What?

    What I’m trying to do is identify patterns that are observable, repeatable, and verifiable, the same way story structure is part of the natural law of story telling. You can believe in it or not, but it’s a real and produces reliable results for anyone who can use it.

    There must be principles that govern how stories work on the micro level – between the plot points, and within the four-part structure.

  11. Sara – You’ve brought up some great points! And this is a tough question. Plotting by fiddling around can work, especially if you’ve got basic story structure in place, but that’s going to take time. Planning scene by scene is usually better, and you can get a pretty good feel for how your pacing will turn out.
    Larry has a great post on writing mission driven scenes (http://storyfix.com/questions-you-should-ask-yourself-before-you-write-a-scene-any-scene), and I think keeping that in mind helps with microplotting. I don’t know if there’s a specific formula for how to get to plot point to plot point, but try outlining keeping this in mind – that each scene needs to have a mission and it needs to move the story forward. If you outline using that principle and it seems too short, you’ll know you need to add in a subplot.
    Adding in curiosity and emotion both can help with driving momentum (curiosity through unanswered questions and emotion through high stakes). These are pieces of what you should plan into your mission driven scenes.
    Hope that helps! Good luck with your writing!

  12. When I get stuck, I go work in my garden. Hands in the dirt always clears my mind. Or, I get into water, swim, hot tub, maybe even just a shower.

    Then, I take my story to bed with me. I read a few pages until I drift off to sleep. That way, when I wake up, I am already writing in my head because my dreams always seem to solve any problem.

    The last trick is to get it down while its flowing. A table or even pen and pad next to the bed are lifesavers (or should I say manuscript savers?)!

  13. Deborah – Awesome! I love your ideas. Reading a few pages of your story before you fall asleep is brilliant. Letting your dreams solve your problems sounds much nicer than hitting your head against your computer 🙂

  14. MikeR

    Writing, like film-making, is a curious art because you see the easily-consumable “final result” without seeing any of the process that lead up to it. You see none of the storyboards, none of the drafts, nothing of what went on in the editing room. It was always “James T. Kirk” and “Spock” and “Scotty” on the Starship “Enterprise.” “T” always stood for “Tiberius.” The fuzzy creatures were always “tribbles.” How could it possibly have been anything else? Well, (almost) every single one of those decisions was deliberate. (They say GeneR, or someone, just blurted out, “Tiberius,” and that was that.)

    The process of creating the film, and the screenplay before it, was “iterative.” Sometimes, more than one choice was made, considered, and developed. Sometimes the final film resembles the script, and sometimes the script resembles the screenplay. Sometimes not.

    In the editing room, the pieces of film are “cut” and then they are “sequenced.” But this is storytelling too, and sequence can make a huge impact: check out the WikiPedia articles on the “Kuleshov Effect.”

    As I am steadily pursuing my project, scenes are piling-up as short paragraphs (sketches) on a spreadsheet, with notes about them in the adjacent column. Enough to capture the idea, and with notes about what the scene would bring-out, would require, and so-on. At this point, I’m pursuing various story-lines, one at a time, with no notion yet of how the various story-lines might be interwoven together as a final sequencing. I’ve got a cast-of-characters, but each one has only a stand-in name. I also don’t know which scenes I’ll use and which I won’t. I’ve played with the idea of taking an important plot-point scene and sketching it from the point-of-view of a sideline character, which was interesting: will I choose to reveal that key-point “straight on,” or “sideways?” Don’t know yet; don’t have to. Nothing’s thrown away. If I come up with an alternate (rewritten) version, both are kept. “Brainstorming.”

    I really don’t want to invest the time of actually “writing the first draft” until I’ve got that entire sequenced spreadsheet (“storyboard”) in front of me. Maybe I’ll print them out onto 3×5 cards. Or maybe I’ll use software. (Scrivener?) Having never before attempted this kind of writing, at this scale, “I just don’t know yet.”

    I’m sure that, one day, after I hang up the phone after hearing the great news from the New York Times for the eleventh week in a row … 😉 … all this process will sound “brilliant.” Reviewers will be reverse-engineering the story and boring entire room-fuls of students with their analyses of it. But, none of them will have any notion of how the thing was actually made, nor will there be too many actual signs of that process. By then, it will be “au fait accompli.”

  15. Robert Jones

    Hi Jessica–I well understand how the middle of a novel can be tricky, but at least we have certain guide posts to follow there in terms of criteria. How about endings? What do you have in terms of that great unwritten last quarter where fewer guidlines have ventured?

  16. MikeR – Your process sounds great! It’s awesome that you’ve found what works for you, and your first draft will turn out so much better because of it.

    Robert – Good question! As far as past the lull and the second plot point, which you can read about here if you haven’t yet (http://storyfix.com/story-structure-series-8-–-the-second-plot-point), there’s very little structural “musts” that I’m aware of. Here’s some ending advice that has helped me:
    1) A good ending is a satisfying ending – it doesn’t have to end happy, but it must fulfill everything you’ve promised your reader. Wrap up all your loose ends.
    2) Write your climax all at once, if possible. It will help you make your pace seem quicker and help the reader feel like things are building.
    3) A great ending comes from when you have things wired so your reader is asking, “How can this ever end well?” You want things to be spiraling downward, looking like they’re never going to get better – and then something changes, and there’s a way out. This is the lull and the second plot point.
    I hope that helps! Good luck with your ending.

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  18. Robert Jones

    Thanks, Jessica.

    Back on topic (and adding my two-cents worth to the discussion), I have to say that finishing is important, but thinking back to my own first attempts at a novel, it was the lessons I learned along the way that were most important. Think of that first time like a road trip without a map into uncharted territory. It can be frustrating. It can be downright scary when you realize you’re lost sometimes. But like anything else, the only real damage that can happen is if you panic and freeze up, or do something stupid–like giving up.

    My own guidelines going in that first time were two-fold:

    1) To tell an interesting story. I had written many shorter stories, but always put that novel on the back burner due to work, or other interests that seemed more important then. I had a pretty good imagination, had even come up with several multi-part stories. So how much trouble could a novel be?

    2) I had been a creative person my entire life, so this was not going to be my only attempt at writing a novel. And that was probably the most important distinction I made during that naive time. Because we, as human being, latch onto things with such a sink, or swim, attitude that going into any situation that works out badly brings out this self-sabotaging vandal that wants to run for a can of spray paint and write, “Never again!” in eighty foot letters before we run away screaming into the night.

    Have you ever stopped to think about how many potential great friendships, or relationships that might have been never got off the ground due to a lousy first date or less than spectacular first impression?

    Okay, we’re talking about a novel here, an inanimate story. Yet, the creation of it comes from a deeply emotional place inside. It can be the most intimate of relationships, capable of taking you places you’ve only dreamed about. And yet, most first attempts will not see publication–or even get finished because the road blackened, the climb became too scary, too confusing, too whatever. So what now? Are you going to go home and board up the windows and never leave again?

    Because that’s essentially what a lot of folks do in many uncomfortable, or difficult situations, in their lives. Decree those words like NEVER and CAN’T and go back to whatever seems most comfortable. But the question remains, if you were really that comfy in life, why did you start down Novel Street in the first place? Because…you were bored? Needed a new hobby? Wanted to make what you thought might be some easy money?

    All lousy reasons, BTW, and maybe you should give up if that’s the case. But if you began that relationship with a spark you thought could blossom into love, if you thought it could be great, if you had one moment while writing that made you feel more alive, soared with the eagles…then press onward, by all means. because nothing else in life is going to make you feel like that. You’ve tasted a sampling of why many people have devoted their lives to creative endeavors of all shapes and sizes. And if writing did that for you, why the hell would you never want to feel like that again?

    I didn’t finish my first novel.

    I did get about 3/4ths through it. Two drafts, both a huge struggle to fix things, both ending in the same place. Don’t ask. But the relationship was not over. I tried it with that first one until I realized we had very little in common. That the writer I was becoming due to that learning process was better than that. Meantime, I had other ideas that came about due to that learning process. I suppose you could say I had met someone new. This time I began with an outline. And just like dating for the first time, I learn not only what I really wanted, I gained experience, etiquette. Thus, I had matured enough to know the first struggle had taught me all it could. It was an okay idea, but not a great one. Had it been great, I might’ve reworked it from the ground up, but a better idea had already presented itself.

    So discernment is a large part of this process. Because like any relationship, you learn something about yourself while it’s going on.

    So how much have you learned? Where are you in your own process? Just keep moving forward, taking in the sites of the road trip, noting the milestones along the way. Just don’t give up. And don’t move on until you know that you know…that you know you’re ready. Then, like they say when you’re looking for a new job, don’t leave the old one until the new one is in hand. Write that outline. Start filling up a notebook. Make it a transition from one gig to the next. Don’t stop cold turkey because you’ll find other things to do during the interim that takes you far afield. Then it’ll be like struggling to get back on that bicycle and learning to ride all over again.

  19. Where were you a week ago?

    More seriously, I am at the 3/4 point in my novel. This is the first novel I seriously outlined, researched, and planned. My trouble came with the big battle. My hero isn’t military: he’s crippled. He doesn’t know strategy, and I needed the city to be invaded with the invaders repelled after a disastrous battle. Even if he did know how to lead a battle, I don’t, and the story didn’t put him in the right position anyway.

    I went through a short period of hating my book and wondering why I created such a limited hero. I looked at my outline, but the battle was necessary to set the stage for the final battle and to give a reason for it to happen.

    So, after a day or two of regretting all my work, the solution came to me. I gave him a small, but related, adventure around the periphery of the battle that allowed some action he was capable of, kept him up to date but vaguely enough not to betray my lack of knowledge, and it advanced the more personal part of the story. After I finished it, I realized that it might have been better: a blow-by-blow scene of military strategy back at the base would have been boring, even if I did know what I was doing. There is a reason most of the battles I read focus on the individuals in the battle.

    All of this is a long way of saying that it’s true: keep writing. My outline called for a battle and certain people to die. I found a way because I didn’t wallow in self-pity for more than a day or two!

  20. Robert – You have some great advice! And congrats on getting 3/4 of the way through your novel, that in and of itself is a big accomplishment. You’re spot on with the right reasons for writing a story 🙂

    Jason – Awesome! It’s great you were able to find a solution to your problem, one that sounds like it worked better than what you originally planned. I think that limited characters are the more interesting ones to read about anyway, so it sounds like you are doing great. Keep it up!

  21. Olga Oliver

    Robert – thanks for your words above – exactly fills my writing needs at this time. Deep into the story, wandering around, hating myself, I ran into some dark thoughts: “why not just take all this writing stuff – all of it – to the dumpster, let it go?” Woooo!! a scary thought … just what would I do without this story? Do I want this story or does this story want me? Damn!! I stayed in this darkness until something said, “wouldn’t you like to see how this story awakens? Do you think it can awaken?” Damn! this story is hanging around for a reason. If I keep on keeping on perhaps I’ll find the reason. That last sentence starts with IF. If I keep on … . Maybe this could work into a concept!

  22. Robert Jones

    @ Jason–Certain types of characters just don’t fit into the “typical” mold. I believe that’s a good thing. Most of us don’t fit that mold. And while it’s fun sometimes to watch the Rambo types in action, they are WAY overplayed. Is that even vicarious experience? Or is it more wishful thinking? I guess it’s a bit of both because most people wish they knew how to do those things, or become a superhero at one time or another.

    But isn’t it more realistic to, not to mention less typical, to ask how the average guy without combat skills would fare in a dangerous situation? Certainly a story is capable of greater suspense if the hero doesn’t have super-skills because you never know what’s going to happen when things get rough. But a crippled hero has a serious handicap. So I would say that a large part of the vicarious experience relies on the fact that you need to make the reader like him, show what he has to lose if he fails, then keep the reader on the edge of their seat wondering how the hell this guy is going to come through it all, protect whatever is at stake, survive.

    And though the adventure on the outskirts of the battle sounds like a good solution, don’t be afraid to get this guy into some trouble. Because as a reader, I’m wondering what his strong points are–intellect, charm, or something more subtle that perhaps he doesn’t even know will be of help to him until he’s put to the test. Then, how do those strengths save him if the villain catches him and puts him in the hot seat, tortures him, or just abandons him in a situation he believes a cripple won’t survive, really belittling his handicap by making him a victim of it.

    It’s thing like this that can make an audience root for the hero and hate the villain.

    @ Olga–Glad to help. Keep asking yourself those “What if” questions. Another technique to gain distance is to try to imagine what another author (preferably one you admire) would do to solve the current problems in your plot. Read, or re-read, some of their best work, put yourself in their place. Type their name in place of your own on the title page.

    If that doesn’t work, try a sort of reverse psychology on yourself by not thinking about the present plot problem. Tell yourself adamantly, “I will not think about________ (insert particular problem) today.” Then go read, or watch some movies. This often works for me.

    But I’m very glad to hear you didn’t toss all your hard work.

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  24. Generally, I love writing the middle of the story. I know that makes me an odd duck, but the middle is where I get to play. I “what-if” all over the middle of the story. (In case you haven’t guessed, I’m not a plotter, but more of a hybrid pantser.) That doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally get stuck. If I’m stuck badly, what works best for me is to go to lunch with another writer and talk about my problem with the story. Sometimes explaining it to someone else is all it takes, because explaining it so it makes sense to someone else forces me to look at all my pieces-parts, but sometimes they’ll blow me out of my mental rut with their comments, giving me a new way of looking at the story or the characters. One of my favorite things about the writing community is how everyone is so willing to help each other.

  25. Olga – Keep on pushing forward, and know that you’re not alone. Every writer has moments when they feel down on their writing. You’re better than you think you are, so keep going!

    Robert – Fabulous advice. I couldn’t agree more 🙂

    Suzie – Wow! I wish I loved writing the middle of a story. I’m glad you have ways to work out story problems, and I use that strategy, too. Sometimes just talking it over gives me new ideas, and the other person doesn’t have to say a thing. Weird how that works. And I agree, the writing community is awesome. We all know that writing is dang hard, and most everyone is willing to help the other out.

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  27. luna

    I realize why I can’t even write completely the first chapter of my story. I find my heroin to be boring. It’s shame because I love a lot of other character in it (including the “villain”) I simply hate loathe my heroin –. I don’t know what to do everything seems to be so predictable with her the way she’s going to react and everything (except maybe in the really end). I guess I need to revise my plot once again.

  28. @Luna — I hear you, I’ve been there, too. Maybe this will help: it’s perfectly reasonable, and workable, to dislike the protagonist of a story as the story opens (often called and anti-hero), and even further into the narrative. But if you can be specific about WHY you dislike her, then you have something to work with.

    The key, I suggest, is to give your unsympathetic character a VERY sympathetic quest, or problem to solve, or opportunity to seize. (Example: wife beating husband – we hate this guy — is cornered by extortionists who have seized his family, he can’t go to the cops, he’s alone with the need to rescue his children and his wife. Yeah, he’s a scumbag, but now he’s got a problem he didn’t create and nobody deserves.)

    Your hero must then DO something, achieve something, escape something, that the reader will ROOT for, even if they don’t “like” her. Then, along that quest-path, have her flaws work against her, then show her experiencing the consequential Epiphanies and learning curve that force her to conquer her inner crap, so that she can then (without her deficiencies in the way) slay the dragons (overcome obstacles) before her on that sympathetic journey.

    Turn your antihero into a genuine hero, and make us feel the difficulty and pain an guilt of doing so. Even drug dealers, killers and abusers face problems we can either relate to or empathize with (like, a crooked district attorney trying to frame your hero as a career-making move), and when the reader sees your hero TRYING to improve themselves in the quest to win this fight, we can really relate to that, because we, too, are imperfect. Readers are quick to forgive flaws when the character steps up and fights them off.

    Hope this helps, thanks for contributing. Larry

  29. luna

    Thank you for your answer. It really helps I’m going to try to review all those things. Thanks a lot 🙂

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