Thursday, November 16, 2023

From the archives: O'Abby's ways to push your story forward

There were no questions for O’Abby this week.  I guess everyone is busy doing #NaNo! So I dug this handy bit of NaNo advice out of the archives

We’re past the halfway point of November now, and if you’re working at the pace to finish your 50K by 30 November you should be hitting or passing the 30K mark around now.  But don’t worry if you’re not there yet.  There’s still time to catch up.  Personally, I don’t get a lot of writing time during the week, so I tend to blitz my word count during the weekends.  I have also been taking one day off work per week to write, and that’s definite motivation to crank out those words.

Just do whatever works for you and make the most of whatever time you can scratch together.

Around about this time is where I often feel like my story is stagnating so I thought I’d give you a few ideas for ways to shake things up a little in your story.  Ideas for how to push your characters into doing something new that might move things along in a significant way.

  •  Someone from the past shows up unexpectedly
  • A character close to your protagonist dies
  • A potentially life-altering secret is revealed
  • Your protagonist loses something valuable
  • Some kind of natural disaster occurs
  • Someone has an accident 
  • Someone moves to a new city/country/house
  • A monster – human or otherwise – enters your protagonist’s world
  • A random act of kindness
  • A crime is committed

These are just some ideas that might help push your characters.  They don’t need to happen to your protagonist directly – sometimes something dramatic happening to one of your secondary characters will motivate your MC more than if it happened to them directly.

The point is to shake things up to propel your MC into some kind of action.  And whatever obstacle you put in their way, whatever challenge, make sure it isn’t easy to overcome.  Your characters need to struggle.  They need to make the wrong decisions more often than the right ones.  Every choice they make needs to make things more difficult for them, throw up more challenges for them to face.

Hopefully this will be helpful if you reach a point where you feel flummoxed and can’t move on.  If there are no questions for O’Abby next week, I’ll share some more tips for getting past potential roadblocks to finishing.

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