We’ve all been there. You’re at point A in your story. You can clearly visualize your destination: point B, when that next Wow moment happens. Point B is one of those scenes you’ve been looking forward to writing since you first thought up the story, and you know it’s going to be fantastic.
But somehow, you’ve lost your road map between A and B. Your character seems to be slogging along with shackles on his feet, and every word out of his mouth sounds kind of lame. You know the story will pick up when you get to that gonzo scene on the horizon, but how do you get from here to there without putting your reader to sleep?
Here are some methods that I’ve used to kick those pages into higher gear:
- Change your point of view character. This one is a favorite of mine. Of course, it assumes you’re using more than one POV in your book. If you are, the problem may be that the wrong character is telling that part of the story. It’s one of the other characters who is doing much more exciting things at the moment. Perhaps they’re in the middle of the action instead of on the sidelines. They’re the one who should be front and center.
- Switch from summary to scene. If you’re like me, you’re sometimes in such a hurry to get to that point B scene that you summarize a bunch of action to get there quicker. Summaries are great when you need a time transition and the action that takes place during that summary isn’t particularly important to the story. If it’s a string of ordinary days, better to summarize. If those are the days during which the main character is in captivity by space aliens and having her internal organs reorganized, I think the reader is gonna want more details. A scene with those details is called for.
- Get your characters talking. Paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of your characters silently doing things (unless it’s heart-pumping action) can be pretty snoozy after awhile. Often you’re trying to reveal information that moves your story forward. But for a reader, dialogue between two characters is a much more fast-paced way to reveal that information. Note: You don’t want to fall into the expository dialogue trap, e.g., “As you know, Bob, earth has been taken over by space aliens. You and I have had our internal organs reorganized several times now.” Both Bob and the speaker know this already and would never have that conversation.
- Get your characters moving. Sometimes even fast-paced dialogue can get a little dull if the characters are just standing in a room bouncing words off one another. Let them walk and talk. Or run and shout. Have them leave their room, or if they’re trapped in a prison, have them trying things to escape. Or they’re at least pacing, somehow in motion.
- Throw in a fight scene. Well, not necessarily a fight, but go for some action. Don’t worry for the moment how it relates to your story. When I’ve gone ahead and written that scene that wasn’t in thesynopsis, that I hadn’t planned for, nearly every time, it magically ends up being a key moment for what comes later. Until I started writing it, I didn’t know I needed that scene. Sometimes I don’t figure out why I wrote that scene until I’m much farther along in the story. And if it turns out what I wrote never meshes with anything else? Just delete it. You probably got things moving just by writing it. That was its purpose and now it’s time to let it go.
I hope these help. They work for me. Do you have any other methods of juicing up your story when it lags? Let me know in the comments.