9 Ideas To Bring Your Stalled Story Back To Life

Are you deep into your story, but can’t get past a certain chapter? Do you feel like you’re stuck and can’t move forward?

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If this describes you, you’re not alone. Some take action and dive right into their writing. However, there are times when you feel like you’re in quicksand. The story doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. The characters start to appear one dimensional. Melissa Donovan, over at writing forward, has a list of some great ways to overcome this phase of your writing. Here are 9 ways to get past being stuck:

  1. Give your characters more than a goal.The characters’ goals are the core of almost every story. They are looking for love, trying to return home, or attempting to save the world. In addition to a goal, give your characters secrets, regrets, ulterior motives, bad memories, or any other issues that will shape their decisions as they move toward the goal.

  2. Deepen the plot.Most plots are actually pretty simple, but things get really interesting when you introduce subplots or make the plot richer by complicating it: the hero’s goal is to save someone she cares about, but what if she will gain something great if she doesn’t save that person?

  3. Breathe life into the setting.Sometimes a story’s setting is just a backdrop: Anytown, U.S.A. But you can enliven a story by giving the setting a little time in the spotlight. Any setting, from a deserted island to a major metropolis, can have personality.

  4. Make new character connections.Relationships often drive plot and conflict. What if two characters who barely know each other find out they share a friend (or enemy)? Build interesting relationships between all the characters in your story.

  5. Add a twist.Some plots plod along predictably. Give your story some zing by tying the plot up in knots. Nothing keeps readers glued to the page like plot twists and cliffhangers.

  6. Fine-tune the descriptions.Don’t tell us the character is staring at a wall. Show him staring at something on the wall: a crack, an ant, or peeling wallpaper. If a character is wearing blue jeans, tell us whether they’re old and faded or crisp, dark denims.

  7. Enhance the dialogue.Are all the characters speaking in the same voice? It’s probably your voice. Give each character distinct expressions. Maybe one character says “dude” a lot while another is constantly assigning pet names to everyone she meets.

  8. Push conflict to the brink.There’s a reason the hero never diffuses a bomb until one second to detonation. Get your characters so deep into conflict, readers start to believe there’s no way out. Then save the day!

  9. Strengthen the themes.You can plan which themes will be threaded through your story, but if you don’t, themes will emerge on their own. Identify the themes, and then strengthen them. If redemption is a theme, show a character humming “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley.

Image: flickr


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