Boring Book Syndrome: Tough Love

Saturday, August 28

This post is an expansion of tuesday's Tough Love section.

This seems to be a major issue for people; what to do when you love part of your story but hate the rest. 

One of my earliest stories suffered from this love/hate controversy. I loved the world I created and spent hours working out its mechanics. The events played out like actual history, and the villain was one of the most chilling antagonists I’d ever created.
One problem though; I absolutely hated the main character. The solution seemed simple. If you don’t like your main character, change him.
He went from slave, to thief, to soldier, to mythical creature. He became a She and flip-flopped back into a He. I hated every single one.
I figured I’d change it from character-driven to event-driven. But I couldn’t find the proper opening. All the doors that led into my richly imagined world seemed like they could only be opened through a character.
I gave up. I sadly stuck all related writings and drawings in the back of my file cabinet and forgot them for years.
A few months ago I stumbled across my old rough draft. I noticed that one character appeared in almost every scene and lit up the otherwise bland novel; the antagonist.
That couldn’t be right. The antagonist couldn’t be the main character!
But I noticed something. The antagonist had goals, the antagonist had enemies. True, he wasn’t a very nice main character, but he fit the description. The key to the story was right under my very nose.

So what do you do when you struggle to write something you love?

Step 1: Identify what you hate.
What’s holding you back? Is it your setting, your characters, your idea, or your writing technique?

Step 2: Change what you hate.

Setting: is there a way to write the same story somewhere else? Does it have to be a magical world? If it’s set in your basic medieval forest, is it possible to tell your story in a lush ancient jungle or vice-versa. Don’t let setting get in the way. The place you feel the most enthusiasm for is where you should be.

Characters: What character do you hate? Can you erase him? Can you change him? If it’s the main character, can you write the story without him? Can you put someone you love in his place?

Idea: Why do you hate it? Is it because it’s unoriginal and based off a movie you love? Don’t worry about being original. Half my books start out sounding exactly like the movie/book that inspired them. With each new draft you veer away from that plotline until someday it’s entirely yours.

Writing Technique: Don’t worry about what your rough draft sounds like. Every rough draft sucks. However, if you’re so frustrated with the way it sounds that you can’t go on, try experimenting with the style. Should it be more serious? More whimsical? Should you change the point of view? Let’s say you’re writing a horror story. You’ll probably not want to sound like Junie B. Jones or Spock. It’d be hard to raise suspense through the perspective of a kindergartener or an alien who can’t feel fear.

Step 3: Replace
If Step 2 doesn’t work out for you, try replacing what you hate with what you love. Go through your draft and pinpoint things that you felt excited to write. Give the things you love center stage.

3 comment(s):

Marian Saturday, August 28, 2010  

Thanks for this post! It's exactly the kind of post I needed right now...I've been really frustrated with my stories lately.

Dushan Marc Wednesday, July 06, 2016  

Stories of love are very famous now and people like to read it too much according to articles and essay writers. Because now more people fell in love than past so we have more stories to study.

james Tuesday, September 27, 2016  

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