If you’re suffering from story stagnation, you need to get your plot moving, soldier. That
means getting tough on the things that don’t need to be there and working the key elements hard.
Lock and load, people, let’s get your plot moving…
- Ask questions. Keep your reader turning the page by presenting questions. The first questions should be, who is the character, what are they doing and what do they want? By asking questions you create a sense of mystery and suspense, which keeps things moving.
- Answer questions. Although asking questions is important, it’s also vital to offer some answers, otherwise your reader will become bored and confused. All questions and no answers results in a plot that goes nowhere and feels like a drug-fueled nightmare. Set up your key questions and answer a few, before asking new questions, such as who killed Jane and why?
- Who’s that girl? Make sure every character is there for a reason. If you’ve got some chick who just hangs around in the background, until someone needs kidnapping, you need to rethink. Maybe she can be combined with another character and they can be kidnapped. In fact, does anyone need to be kidnapped?
- Add conflict. Conflict doesn’t just mean killing and kidnapping. Conflict is the thing that stops your protagonist from getting what they want. Maybe they want a scholarship, so they can leave a life of poverty, but they have to work at night, so it’s hard to find time to study and their parents think they should leave school and get a job. Maybe your character is in a space suit with limited oxygen – it can be as simple as that. Add conflict and your readers will care and your story will keep moving, as long as you solve one problem, before creating a few others and making them bigger and badder.
- Give your scenes a border check. Hey, what’s this scene in the pub doing here? Did it get a visa to be in this book? And by visa, I mean does it serve a purpose? Make sure every scene is there for a reason and moves the story along. Why are your characters in the pub – are they going to meet a key figure, have an emotional heart-to-heart moment, get blown up by the enemy or find a clue? If they’re just going to have a pint and a laugh, cut it and get back to the story.
What tricks do you have to keep your plot moving? If none of these tips work, maybe you don’t have enough story and it’s time to rethink.