How to Cure Boring Writing—Keeping Your Novel From Dragging On, and On, and On….

Have you ever been writing, just minding your own business, as your characters run around, doing their stuff, advancing the story line, furthering their own development, ultimately inching the story ever closer to its explosive climax and gripping conclusion, when you suddenly realized that

A. You are absolutely bored to tears, and

B. You can barely stand to read what you’ve written.

Well, if this happens to you, never fear! Unless this is your usual state of writing, in which case I recommend you find a new hobby, or job, or whatever the case may be—one which doesn’t involve writing. But if this is just a temporary affliction, there are several easy fixes which will help you keep your writing fresh and exciting for you, and more importantly, for your readers. Because if even you are bored by your writing, that’s only going to be compounded for your readers. Here are three easy ways to freshen up your novel, even when you find yourself utterly uninspired.

  1. Cut the Chit-Chat

In my experience, oftentimes when my writing lacks depth, drive, and decisiveness, it’s due to an imbalance between dialogue and description. Most likely, I will have written long passages reliant almost entirely on dialogue, with very little description thrown in. These passages often ramble pointlessly, as characters are forced to hash out every basic detail and delicate nuance of the plot. Sometimes, I become so focused on the dialogue that entire chapters of rambling, mindless, forced discussion ensue. If you want to keep engaged with the story and further the plot without driving your readers mad, cut the chit-chat. Delete, delete, delete. Every unnecessary, dull line of dialogue must go, and in its place, use description to keep the reader filled in.

2. Sum it Up or Flesh it Out

There are times, as a writer, when we must make decisions for the good of our story. Examine the scenes you’ve written, and determine which scenes are dull because they are unnecessary, and which scenes are dull because they lack depth or meaning. If a scene seems unnecessary, but cannot be removed because it furthers the story, sum it up. I often write entire scenes which can be shortened into a single paragraph—most often transition scenes, bringing characters from one place to the next. In such a case, shorten through description, or eliminate it entirely and mesh the information into another scene, revealing it bit by bit. If a scene simply lacks depth or meaning, then add to it. Flesh it out. Remove dull, dragging sections, and replace them with a solid, meaningful balance of dialogue and description. Sometimes, a point will be lost because it is carried on for too long—to the point where it becomes painfully obvious and loses its meaning. Other times, a point will be lost because it is not carried on long enough—and a couple lines of dialogue are not enough to capture the depth and breadth of a character’s experience.

3. Make it Personal

Even if you are writing in a fictional universe which only exists in the deepest corners of your imagination, you have to make every scene, every chapter relevant to you, or your work will certainly not be relevant to readers. Maybe you don’t have any personal experience to draw upon when writing a gunfight, and that’s okay. That’s why you have that imagination of yours. But colour everything you write with your personal experiences, and you will find a more vibrant, living world breathing on your pages.

Now that you’ve stoked that writing fire deep within your soul, go forth! Write well! And never, never, ever write anything that bores you.

Love you all!

Baylie

Today’s the Day!

Can you believe it? I can’t! Unsettled has been released on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Indigo as an ebook, and on Createspace, an Amazon company, as a paperback. It will be available on Amazon in paperback form within a few days. It has been quite a marvelous journey getting here! Reset, book two of the series, is approximately a third of the way through its first draft, and will be released in 2016. I am so grateful for everyone who has supported my blog, for everyone who has encouraged me, and for everyone who hasn’t laughed in my face when I mentioned I was writing a novel.

Oh, and by the way, I have to apologize for a week of missed blog posts~it’s been busy. Between work, dance, and school, I’ve had no time to spare. I hope to continue posting regularly, when my schedule calms down a little and I have the time, which should be soon. In the meanwhile, you’ll have to excuse my occasional absence.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going in for a sales pitch. If you are the least bit interested in young adult fiction, dystopian futures, socioeconomic imbalance, unlikely heroes, first love, mass rebellion, or saving the world from certain destruction, read Unsettled! You can get the ebook for less than the price of your morning Starbucks (which, incidentally, should have been named Fivebucks, seeing what they charge for coffee). And, second to reading the book, the nicest thing you could do would be to review it. Unless, of course you give me a bad review. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Just kidding. You can write a nasty review if you want. Any sort of feedback would be appreciated, I suppose. And then, if you cared enough about the book to review it, tell your friends about it! Even if you tell them not to read it…at least then they’ll know it exists.

Well, it’s been a lovely visit, but I really must get back to my work.

Phoenix, however, is waiting for you to meet her.

Love you all!

Baylie

Poetry Reading: Nightlight

Nightlight

By Baylie Karperien

Love was a nightlight

A lingering glow, the last to stay bright

But the day belonged to the man

With exhaust churning from the hectic traffic jam

Electronic blips and red lights symbolizing stop

Starbucks, Burger King, and super-sized cups of pop

The number on a bank statement defining whether they could stay

And cold pavement lives with secrets it has hidden far away

Secrets stolen from the passersby

Perhaps the only truth they know has always been a lie

As each man fights for something he has known to be the truth

Politics, human rights, and the status of our youth

And we measure our success by just how far we get ahead

But the more ahead we get the closer come to being dead

And the world is obsessed with itself

And the world is obsessed with the day

And the world forgets that all the world will pass away

Into the night

And the only thing that matters then

Will be the lasting glow of light

How to Construct a Killer Plot

A novel without a plot…well, it’s not a novel. It’s not really much of anything, more like a mess. Your characters, your setting, all of it is created around and dependent on your plot to give it any real meaning. Your plot drives character development and relationships, forms the very basis of your writing. Your characters may be rich, indeed, developed, well-rounded, and compelling in your own mind, but without any way to reveal themselves as such, will remain stagnant and dull. Plot drives character development, and conflict drives plot. Conflict between protagonist and antagonist. Conflict between protagonist and love interest. Conflict between protagonist and supporting characters. Conflict between protagonist and an army of armed armadillos. Really, it doesn’t matter~as long as the conflict exists. Plot is the direction that your story takes. The main events which define your novel. It is the backbone of your novel, without which the entire thing would fall apart.  All in all, plot is extremely essential to your novel~as you hopefully knew already.

1.Build up over time

Pace your story. Don’t give it all away at once~give the readers time to digest and wonder at what’s going to happen next. Allow the events to unfold naturally, while keeping things moving. The only thing worse than a story that moves too quickly is one that moves too slowly~even if the plot itself is excellent, unbearably slow pacing will bore readers and may result in them giving up on your book entirely. Overly fast pacing will overwhelm and confuse readers. If your plot is executed so quickly that it doesn’t make any sense, no one’s going to to want to read it. Instead, allow conflict to build over the course of the novel, continuing to escalate tensions until the climax is reached.

2.Keep them guessing

Write out your plot in a single sentence. Stare at it. Drink a cup of coffee and stare at it some more. Does it seem familiar? Have you seen the almost exact same sequence of events before, in a film or novel or play? Odds are, your plot will be very similar to a thousand other plots in the world of literature. Ensure that what you’re writing will not seem too familiar to readers. Keep your plot original~while the events that take place may be very similar to a previous work, find a way to make your story unique and, to make a little play on words, novel. Once your plot has achieved a certain level of originality, work with it a little. Try and find ways to surprise readers. Make a list of eleven possible events that could occur and cross off the first ten that came to your mind~if it seemed obvious to you, it will seem obvious to readers. But ensure that your plot twists don’t seem to fly at readers out of the blue and smash them over the head with a bowling ball. Check that your plot is believable, fluid, and retains a certain level of realism, even in a fantasy world.

3.Keep it simple, stupid!

If you have no idea what’s going on, neither will your readers. Don’t make your plot so complicated that readers are lost. This is perhaps the worst mistake an author can make. If one cannot follow the story, there is no point in the story existing. Finding the balance between overwhelmingly complex and un-inspiringly simple can be a difficult task~but never fear, it is not impossible. Simple does not mean that your plot has to be boring. It means it must be understandable. Your plot can certainly be highly complex, as long as it is executed in a manner which the reader will understand. Otherwise, you might as well type out two hundred pages of Lorem ipsum placeholder text.

4.Leave them satisfied~or dying for more

Build up all that tension through the story-line until you reach the climax, and then absolutely floor the reader. Make their jaw drop. Make them stop, blink, and read it again. Your climax is the defining moment of your story~make it important. Make it mean something. And then, after all that tension has been building up, release it. Resolve the conflict. Your reader has been holding their breath. Let them take a nice, big, exhalation. Be careful not to drag the resolution on too long, or you risk spoiling all the nice tension you built up before. Your ending does not have to be a happy one, but it should satisfy the readers, tie up the loose ends, and give some sense of resolution, even if it is an open ending. If your book ties in to a sequel or is part of a series, write out two separate plot lines. One for the series, one for the individual novel. This way, you can leave some elements unresolved and encourage readers to come back for the next installment, while still cleanly finishing your plot.

Plot is all about conflict. Without some form of conflict, there is really very little reason to read a novel. There must be change, there must be growth, and there must be tension. Write your plot so that readers will clearly understand it, and write it so that even you yourself are surprised by it. With finely crafted pacing and a satiating resolution, you may just find that you’ve constructed one of what every novel needs~a killer plot.

Happy writing! Love to all,

Baylie