Writer's Survival Guide 26: 3 Ways to Fix a Story Problem
If you're a writer and you've gotten feedback on your work either from a critique partner, a contest, an agent, an editor, or a freelance editor, you know about story problems.
By story problems, I mean, things that don't work for whomever gives you feedback. These could be a character flaw, inappropriate pace, too much backstory, too little backstory, insufficient conflict, over-the-top conflict, stilted dialogue, unlikable characters, cliche'd writing, undeveloped setting--you name it!
I've been alerted to many story problems in the years I've been writing. It's shocking, I know. I'm not a perfect writer! What?? :)
When I get feedback that resonates with me, I sigh. I berate myself a little bit.
Why can't I get this right? How many revisions and books does it take to write a great book? I'm studying, working hard, and I'm committed to writing at my highest level--so why am I still not getting it right?
When I'm done with the self-loathing, I usually detach myself emotionally. I analyze the main problems identified and spend time analyzing if I agree they really are problems. Once I've done this, I'm ready to tackle them.
Here are three ways to fix a story problem.
1. Get to the heart of the problem by summarizing it in one sentence. Do this for every issue you will be working on.
2. Brainstorm 10 ways to fix the problem. You can always brainstorm more, but do a minimum of 10. You might not use every "fix," but you'll feel better knowing you have plenty of options.
3. Send the new version out for more feedback. Sometimes we do our best to solve a problem, but we only get it about 80% correct. A trusted critique partner, a contest, or a freelance editor will help us shape the book into it's absolute best form.
I've written a lot of books. When I stray from my prescribed revision and feedback routine, my book suffers. I've learned the hard way that for me to put out my best work, I have to be diligent about verifying the key plot points, paying attention to my critique partners' advice, and going through my revision checklist.
How do you fix story problems when you're writing?
Have a fantastic day!