Hooking Your Readers with a Great Crisis, and Hitting Delete

November 17, 2017



"If it's not working, let it go.


I'm proud to be contributing to the Story Grid Fundamental Fridays blog today! Click here to read my article. Keep reading for a pep talk on how to hit Delete. 


A story climaxes at the crossroads of an ultimate dilemma for the protagonist: Either a best bad choice, or a question of irreconcilable goods. If you've ever accused a story of being "anti-climactic"--or received this feedback yourself!--odds are the story lacked a true crisis-point. 


At this crisis, a protagonist must face the ultimate test of their willpower to achieve their object of desire


But did you know that to have a working scene, each scene must also contain a crisis for the central character(s)? 


I break down several examples of global and scene crises in my article. Here's the link one more time.


A little inside-scoop, for those of you still here: I have been writing this article for over a month. I scrapped the majority of my first draft. My original argument was centered completely around To Kill a Mockingbird; while I kept some examples where they were most helpful, I decided not to put all my eggs in that basket. It's a stronger article as a result. 


I share that to remind writers that your first draft is never your final draft. Don't hang onto beautiful lines and scenes that didn't shift just because you spent the time on it. 


The value of storytelling for us writers is in the development of craft. To be more clear: it is never a waste to push through and develop the craft. Even if you delete thousands of lines of text over the course of your career; even if you trash whole subplots and storylines and even characters in your third revision. 


If it's not working, let it go. Sentence, paragraph, scene, storyline, subplot. Sometimes even a whole story needs to be shelved for you to move on and tell a better one. This doesn't make you a bad writer. 


This is the difference between a Pro and an Amateur. Read the book Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield if you need to hear this from someone who's sold a lot (a lot a lot) of books. 


I promise you that all successful writers have manuscripts in their drawers. I promise you that no successful writer wrote a publishable first draft out the gate. 


By all means, try to make it work first. I'm not telling you to spend hours and 50k+ words on NaNoWriMo and then automatically throw it away. First celebrate your huge accomplishment of writing a book, and celebrate what IS working. But once you're ready to edit, use the Story Grid principles to pinpoint why your scenes aren't working. Arm yourself, and keep working that muscle. You wrote every day in November. You're turning Pro. Now use the tools available to you through Story Grid to write a story that works. 


The story isn't the problem. The problem is the problem. Work out the problems that can be fixed; throw away what isn't serving your story. 


Set up a call with me if you need help applying the Story Grid principles to your story after NaNo. I'm happy to help.  



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