Friday, August 27, 2010

Finding a Character's Voice

“Sneakin', sneakin'! Hobbitsess always sssooo polite, yesss. Ehm..nice Hobbitsess. Smeagol brings them up ssecret ways, that nobody else can find. Tired he is, and thirsty he is and he guidesssess 'em and he searchesss the path..yess. And then they say: Sneak!” -- Gollum: Lord of the Rings
Each character in our story should be designed so they are memorable as possible. When I think of the multilayered elements that make up a unique and memorable character, the sound of their voice in dialogue always stands up for me to take notice. Gollum from Lord of the Rings, Hagrid from Harry Potter, Emperor Palapatine from Star Wars:  Each of these characters had interesting background stories and physical traits, but what really brings them to life is the unusual way they spoke, a combination of motivation, dialect, and vocabulary.

So, how do we bring that voice out onto the page and into each line of dialogue (and even their thoughts, if we write from their POV)?

One technique that could help get you into the head of a character is to write strictly from their POV. Not as part of the story itself, but as a separate exercise. By this I mean, take a black sheet of paper, get into the mindset of that character, and then start writing. Don’t stop until the page is full. Write a letter to the character’s mother; write an editorial essay as if they were in school; scribble a journal entry that fills a page with the character’s words. Write whatever they are thinking and feeling in their own voice. Don’t stop to ponder their words, just let the characters thoughts become your own and guide your pen.

If you have characters that sound similar, or even if you want to refine the more unique sound of your antagonist, give this technique a try and see what comes of it. You might be surprised.

Keep writing!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Fiendish Harpies

The harpy is a creature from Greek mythology that is shrouded somewhat in a mystery about their appearance. In some of the oldest depictions, the harpies and sirens were much alike - women with enormous wings. Later renderings show them as having the bodies of eagles or vultures and only the head remained female. Some variations even show harpies as having bird bodies and the heads and chest o women, exposing naked breasts.

Some images show beautiful faces and some horrifically ugly. Regardless, the all displayed a twisted sense of cruelty and no moral compass to speak of.

Regardless of their appearance, these were some nasty customers.

The story of Phineas

The most well know tale is that of Phineas, King of Thrace. Phineas had the gift of foresight, but Zeus (the lord of the Olympian gods) believed that Phineas revealed too much information. In punishment, Zeus blinded the man and put him on an island. The island held an incredible banquette of food that renewed itself each day.

That doesn’t sound all bad - vengeful god takes away one thing, but gives another, right? Umm... not quite. Every time Phineas tries to eat from the banquette, the harpies show up. They snatch the food right out of his hands before he ever has a chance to eat. In addition to such torture, the harpies then spoil the rest of the food as part of Phineas’ punishment.

This goes on for some time until the Greek hero Jason arrives on the island. Through his efforts, the harpies are run of to never bother Phineas again. In appreciation, Phineas uses his gifts warn Jason about the Symplegades, or clashing rocks, and how to pass them during the hero’s voyage.

This story shows not only the cruelty of the harpy, but from a fiction writing standpoint, we see the intricacy of one subplot impacting another in the grand scheme of things.

Other writings
  • There are many other stories of the harpies in Green myth, but most are fleeting cameo roles.
  • They tortured souls traveling to the vile planes of Tartarus (the Greek version of Hell - for lack of a better term).
  • They tortured the Trojans by stealing their food and starving their men.
  • In Dente’s depiction of Hell, harpies victimized the souls of those who committed suicide in the second ring of the inferno.
  • Surprisingly, there are a few cases, though not many, of harpies found on medieval coats-of-arms.
So, there you have it. The harpy - malevolence at its finest.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quote for Today

I saw this on Kill Zone and thought it worth repeating here:

"If you want to write fiction, the best thing you can do is take two aspirins, lie down in a dark room, and wait for the feeling to pass. If the feeling persists, you probably ought to write a novel." – Lawrence Block

Source: Writing the Novel (1979, Writer's Digest Books)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fleshing Out Characters

This week, I’d like to talk a little about how to bring characters to life, or in other words how to bring reality into characters.

Every character in our stories deserves the attention of a detailed background whether the lead or a minor personality. They have goals, ambitions, family, and other traits on top of what we normally think, such as eye color and height. Here is a list of the things I fill in for each of my characters. Some are more appropriate than others and I don’t do every single one for every single character. But I do enough to bring out that character’s personality.

In addition, I typically write anywhere from a paragraph to a full page on any given character before starting the story. This brings my mind up to date and helps cement that character before they ever speak a line of dialogue. My hope is that you’ll be able to use these ideas in breathing more life into your own.

External Traits
  • Name: Full name, Nickname
  • Place of Origin: City, town, state, country
  • Race: As applicable
  • Age: In the time scale of your story (years, moons, etc)
  • Sex: (Yes, No, and Sometimes are not the correct answers LOL)
  • General Appearance: height, weight, eye color, haircut (and how the character feel about it)
  • Distinguishing marks: What makes this character more easily recognized compared to the other characters in the story
  • Voice: Is it squeaky, robust, deep, giggly, etc.
  • Occupation: What they do for a living or for money
  • Personal Habits: Dress, manners, etc.

Internal Traits
  • Motives: What drives this character to act the way they do
  • Goals: What do they want (be very specific. World Peace is not a goal. Joining the Peace Corps to feed the hungry in Haiti is.
  • Vulnerabilities: What will cause the character to break down emotionally or physically?
  • Enneagram: As discussed in last week’s blog on personalities
  • Likes: Long walks on the beach, sunsets, ponies, etc. LOL
  • Passions: Name at least one thing the character feels strongly about and why
  • Dislikes: Turn offs, things they just can’t stand to be around
  • Quirks: Odd behavioral habits that are out of the norm for their society
  • Background: Here I write 1 page for a main character and a paragraph or two for a minor character

Character Thoughts
  • Attitude: Main outlook about people or events
  • Self Perception: What does the character believe is their major flaw? What is their major strength?
  • Other’s Perception: What does the character believe others think of them?
  • Parental Influence: How does the character view their parents?
  • Relationships: With love interests and/or other family members
  • School Life: Is the character educated? Where? How was their performance? What is there attitude toward schooling in general?
  • Free Time: Hobbies or personal passions that fill in disposable time
  • Places I've been: Favorite vacation locations, or places this character has been (good or bad) that sets them apart from the rest of the cast
  • Places I'd like to go: Here’s a chance to create some wish-lists for you character
  • People I know: Has the character ever met a famous person? Do they have special connections that other characters might not?

Author Thoughts
  • What do you really like about this character?
  • What do you really hate?
  • What do you plan to reveal about this character that no one else knows?
  • What will be this characters epiphany in the story and how will it change them?

This is certainly not a comprehensive list. Add your own traits, ideas, questions, character thoughts, and anything else you think is appropriate. It’s a lot of work; I won’t lie about that. But it’s worth every moment when the characters leap of the page.

Keep on writing!!

Q4U:  What other aspects of a character do you include when rounding them out?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Noble Griffin

Let’s continue our Wednesday “Mythological Monster Day” tradition, now in its second week. LOL

The Griffin (or griffon or gryphon) was a symbol of pride, elegance, and majesty for centuries. It’s described as a creature with the head of an eagle and body of a lion. In most versions the griffin also had the wings of an eagle. The front claws varied over the centuries with early versions shows as having lion paws and later variations with eagle talons. Ironically, by the around the 12th century, images of griffins once again showed the front claws as that of a lion. Because the lion is considered the lord of the land and the eagle the lord of the sky, the griffin was a very important symbol of power.

It’s hard to tell exactly where the legend of this creature comes from as most records are lost to time and spoken about in such detail over a millennial span. The earliest knows depictions of the griffin date back to the 15th century BC. Statues of griffins adorn important architectural structures and were used to guard treasure. In Europe, through the Renaissance period, nobleman used the griffin on their coats-of-arms and heraldry.

According to legend, a griffin's claw was believed to have medicinal properties and its feathers could restore sight to the blind. Claws fashioned into goblets (which were typically made from antelope horns) and griffin eggs (usually ostrich eggs) were considered highly prized in the medieval courts of Europe.

The symbolism of the griffin can also be found in Christianity. The medieval Catholic Church saw the griffin as representative of Jesus. Born of earth (lion) and divinity (eagle), griffin images are found on many of the cathedrals still standing today.

This odd combination of fierce beast and noble creature has sparked the imagination for thousands of years. Let it inspire you to create fantastic worlds.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ten Things to Avoid

Here's a blog I found interesting:  Ten things not to do if you want to get published on Kill Zone by Kathryn Lilley.

For those who are a bit savvier on the publishing business, these may not be profound statements. But, if you're still in the learning phase, or even think you have room to grow (which should be everyone), have a look.

Kill Zone is a blog written by a collection of well published suspense and thriller authors. The blog is typically full of wit and great information. The best part, in my opinion, is the comments found with each post. Not all of these authors agree when one of them goes on a tyrate about something that annoys them in the publishing and story writing universe. The internal banter can sometimes make this a blog worth reading.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Time off work -- Time to go to work

After a rather rough week at my 8-5 job, It's time to take a few days off. The plan is to do a bit of writing and a bit of housework and a bit of anything else my wife comes up with on her "honey do" list.

This is a time for reflection. I’ll likely spend the greater part of the next three days working either on my blog or novel. Either way, one of two things will happen. I’ll either spend the whole time glued to my computer or I won’t touch the magic box for 72 hours. Too early to tell yet, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Tomorrow, I’m planning to attend a meeting with a local writer’s club. I’ve never been around other aspiring authors face-to-face, so it’s a little nerve wracking for one like me who’s naturally filled with social angst. My plan of attack? Don’t bring anything more than a black notebook with me. LOL. Despite what my critique critics say, I have a great deal of self doubt about the quality of my work (hence the anxiety). If I bring nothing with me, I don’t have to share. :D A bit of cheating, however it’s the only way I’ll make it through, I think... Well, that and a Xanax. LOL

Friday, August 13, 2010

Multiple Personalities

Today marks one month of Write Point of View.  To celebrate, let’s do something different this week.

I’ve been reading Dialogue: Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialogue by Gloria Kempton. Though I can’t say this book will change your life forever, she did bring up a few things the sparked ideas.

One in particular centers on the principal of finding a character’s voice. This is something I personally struggle with in many respects. After spending 75,000 words with the same characters, they seem to fall into one of two camps. Either they have become distinct voices that I can use during revision and thereby create a unique personality. Or, they all start to sound alike - speech patterns, vocabulary, etc. This especially rings true when their motives and backgrounds are similar.

So for today’s blog, I thought I’d explore some specific personality traits that can help bring life to your characters. Real people whether good natured friends, neighbors down the street, or perfect strangers have certain personality traits that are hard to mask. This is brought even more to the forefront in fiction, where we try to bring a hint of melodrama into dialogue. After all, who wants to read a boring book about boring people, right?

Quote from The Enneagram Made Easy by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele:

The Enneagram is a study of the nine basic types of people. It explains why we behave the way we do, and it points to specific directions for individual growth. It is an important too for improving relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.
The roots of the Enneagram go back many centuries. Its exact origin in not known, but it is believed to have been taught orally in secret Sufi brotherhoods in the Middle East. The Russian mystical teacher G. I. Gurdjieff introduced it to Europe in the 1920s, and it arrived in the United States in the 1960s.
To paraphrase, the Enneagram personalities are a classification system we can harness to develop better characters through more realistic and diverse motives. I’ll let you do your own reading further into this study, but for now, I’ll present the nine personalities of the Enneagram as a place to start.

Footnote:  On a side note, you may see/hear these personalities called by many diffeernt names - but they all generally mean the same thing.

#1 - The Reformer / Perfectionist

This personality type knows they are right and you are wrong. They do not do this out of malice or for posturing, necessarily. Typically, the reformer wants to help make you right by informing you that you’re wrong. I don’t mean to bring religion into this conversation, but religious zealots can fall into this group with the goal of enlightening others. In fiction, Hermione Granger of Harry Potter fame comes immediately to mind.

#2 - The Giver / Supporter

This person will give of themselves until it hurts. It doesn’t matter if they agree with what’s happening or not, they (for whatever reason) can’t stand to see other people wanting. The Giver is often taken advantage of, but it doesn’t stop them from wanting to provide whatever they can. When I think of the Giver, I often consider a battlefield nurse during the early days of the Red Cross. You might also find this personality in an abused housewife, who donates all of her love to an unworthy husband. What about the woman who watches their neighbor’s kids, even though thaty can’t stand the brats -- brings a cake to the birthday party they were invited to -- or loans money to help pay bills knowing full well they may never get it back. Givers are typically women. It’s been bred into today’s society. But, that doesn’t mean men can’t fall into this personality as well.

#3 - The Achiever / Motivator

Here’s someone that’s always on the go. They are motivated by their own brand of success and will do anything it takes to get there. I think of the young urban professional (YUPY) when this personality comes to light, always on the go, always something to do. Achievers keep their schedule book full and rarely have time for other things that might detour them from their goals. These are the movers and shakers and nothing is going to slow them down.

#4 - The Artist / Romantic

Oh, to be a drama queen! Artists range from unbound highs to depressing lows. They have unachievable goals and always look to something greater, but they rarely see themselves able to attain those goals. Artists make mountains out of molehills. Although they are full of creative ideas and warm up to people fairly well, these are the same folks who burst into tears at the drop of a hat, angrily shout at others before they can gain control of their words, and express terror before there’s anything to be afraid of.

#5 - The Observer / Thinker

The Observer is the quiet one -- the wallflower in the corner during their homecoming dance. This personality doesn’t say much. They prefer to watch from a distance and only interact when absolutely necessary. When they do finally speak, they tend to blurt to the point where they won’t shut up. :) These can be fun characters because they are highly introverted. If they are a POV character, we explore them more through internal rather than external dialogue. When they are not a POV character, it’s harder to let the reader know what’s going on in her mind -- but when she does finally express herself, watch out!

#6 - The Questioner / Loyalist

These people question everything: “What are you doing? What will the neighbors think? Do you think that outfit is appropriate for school? When are you going to take the trash out? Do you like giving me all this grief?”

This personality is often concerned about what other people think of them and their family. They are constantly concerned about being embarrassed and want nothing to happen that could set their neighbors against them. What’s fun about this personality is that they almost always throw questions into their dialogue -- typically replacing statements about how they feel with rhetorical questions.

#7 - The Adventurer / Generalist

The Adventurer just simply loves life. Everything takes on a happy tone. They see the good in all things. “She’s in a better place now.” “I love the rain. Everything smells so fresh afterward.” She’s usually working on one project or another or jet setting about on interesting travels to exotic places.

#8 - The Leader / Protector

The Leader is the one in command. They speak with authority and everyone else tends to listen. These people are constantly worried about looking stupid, so they will do anything in their power to prevent it. It doesn’t matter if people like them or not just so long as they don’t make a fool of themselves. They also have a strong drive to protect the ones they love. In fact, it’s been said that many criminals have a Leader personality and end up in trouble because of their own contrived sense of defending their loved ones.

#9 - The Peacemaker / Diplomat

The Peacemaker is a combination of several other personalities. Their primary focus is to keep people coming together, find compromises amongst them, and better society as a whole. The Peacemaker just wants to get along with everyone they come into contact with. Like the Giver, the Peacemaker, in her attempt to help everyone cope, will often forget about their own needs. Unlike the Giver, the Peacemaker does this because they are less worried about their own desires and can simply forget them.


So this is one way to find your character's voice.  Think about the characters in your fiction.  Chances are, they fall closely into one of the above categories.  What can you do to bring out more of that personality into your fiction through internal and external dialogue?  Consider bringing these traits to the surface for your reader's enjoyment.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It's looking more and more like my story issues are deeper then I originally thought. The motivations of my characters is part of what's causing the problem. It's not as intense as it should be by this point in the story. The solution - up the ante, increase the tension, multiply the danger by a factor of two. You know what that means, right? A complete rework of the story going all the way back to the beginning. I'll still be able to use some of the center, but the beginning and end - complete rewrite. *sigh* Just wish it hadn't taken 80,000 words to figure this out.

It feels, at this point, I have wasted 4 months of work. In reality - if I'm willing to let myself admit it - is that I would not have realized the problem UNTIL I wrote 80,000 words. So it really means a strengthening of story from good to hopefully great. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Do I want to do it? Not a chance!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Lernean Hydra

I’m declaring Wednesday as “Mythical Monster Day.” The plan is (hold onto your tunic) to take a closer look at a different mythological monster every week. How profound is that? :)

Well, OK. So it’s not THAT unique an idea - but what the heck. This is my blog. :P

Let’ start things off with one of my favorite creatures from Greek Mythology - the Hydra.

Heracles (or Hercules to the Romans) was a great and tragic Greek hero. He was the son of Zeus (Lord of Olympus and the god of thunder) and a mortal woman named Alcmena. Zeus’ wife Hera, furious at her husband’s infidelity, set about to destroy the half-god from the moment of his birth. At each deadly encounter, Heracles managed to avoid death. When he reached adulthood, Hera (goddess of women and marriage) found her chance. She put madness into Heracles’ head that resulted in him killing his own children. To repent for the crime, Heracles set off to complete a series of tasks commonly called “The Labors of Heracles.” The second of these labors was to kill the Lernean Hydra.

Stories vary depending on the author and time period, so here I’ll recount my favorite version.

The Hydra was a reptilian beast, serpentine in nature, with nine heads and a venomous bite. To make the matter more complicated, one of the heads was immortal. To lure the creature out of hiding, Heracles shot flaming arrows into the beast’s lair. Once exposed, he battled with the monster in hand to head combat. Some variations indicate the central head spewed fire, which would have certainly complicated matters.

Like any good mythological story, there are so many variations, it’s hard to keep track. Some stories make this monster as big as a house. Others depict is as little more than a dog-size reptile. Regardless of its physical size, this thing was lethal.

As Heracles severed each head from the monster’s body, his horror multiplied. For each head killed, two grew back in its place. This symbolized the hopelessness of his task and the increasing likelihood of the hero’s death. Talk about upping the ante of a conflict! He eventually discovered a solution. As he removed each head with his sword, he used a flaming brand to cauterize the wound. This prevented the head from growing two more anew. But, the deadly central head, which was immortal, could not be killed so easily. It’s unclear if Heracles severed the head and then buried it beneath a bolder or if he buried the entire remaining monster. But, what we do know is that this was one tough mythological monster.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What to Ask an Agent

What do you say to an agent when you finally get "The Call?" Find out bellow!
For anyone who missed yesterday's post by Rachelle Gardner, here's a link:
What to Ask an Agent

Rachelle is always full of great information.  If you're not already a follower, I highly recomend becoming one.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Time to Rearange

Ah... The trials and tribulations of the ever persistent need for perfection.
Note to self:
Don’t forget to move scene A to section B and rearrange the details from scene C to make them all fit together seamlessly.
This week’s personal writing note is all about rearranging my plot to make it stronger. I initially set out to write the several thousand words needed to complete the chapter I’m working on only to discover at the end, it didn’t really work well. This is a case where I didn’t realize it at first. I was too close - focusing on the narration of the moment without taking the chapter as a whole into account. Event A follows event B follows event C. All looked great on the sentence level.

Then I made the necessary mistake of reading the chapter from the beginning. The scenes bounced from one event to the next without consideration of the flow between them. Most importantly, I found that the last two scenes - highly important to the overall plot - didn’t fit next to each other. They need more space - more time for the reader to absorb one moment before the next will make any sense.

So after that lovely round of babbling, I find I need to rearrange the scenes to make them work. That means going through everything with a fine toothed comb - extracting details, shifting them to rework various plot points - adjusting motivations as required - then seeing what happens.

Q4U - Ever had to rearrange your plot to make it work? What problems and issues did you not expect while doing so?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Building Realistic Worlds - Part IV

The Devil's in the Details

For fiction, we clearly do not have time to explore the endless nuances of a created world. There are only just so many pages of text to use when transporting our reader from their ordinary, mundane lives into a world filled with magical robots, or fire breathing elves, or whatever other amazing thing you’ve stuck in your head. We still have to tell the actual story somewhere in there. Knowing what details are noteworthy enough to put on page and which should be left in your stacks of notes is too big a subject for today’s article.

For the time being, I’m going to cheat a little and direct you to another site that will help you flesh out your world in ways you may not have thought possible. In August 2009, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) published an article (really a series of questions) intended to make you think about your world. This thought provoking list brings important details, big and small, into center stage.

Here’s a sample copied directly from the article:
  • How long have there been people on this world? Did they evolve, or did they migrate from somewhere/when else?
  • Are there non-human inhabitants of this planet (elves, dwarves, aliens)? If so, how numerous? How openly present? What areas do they occupy?
  • How do differences from Earth (multiple suns, moons, etc.) affect the climate in various areas?
  • How much conflict has been or might be caused by these imbalances in resources? How much active, peaceful trade?
  • Is magic legal here? All magic, or only some types? Do laws vary widely from country to country, or is the attitude generally similar?
  • What does this country import? Export? How important is trade to the economy? How is currency exchange handled, and by whom? What is the system of coinage, and who mints it?
  • What eating utensils are used, if any? Forks, eating knife, spoons, chopsticks?
  • What things, while edible, are never eaten (what’s not kosher)? Why? Are some common human foods poisonous to dwarves or elves (or vice versa)?
  • How do gestures and body language differ between countries? Between species? Are there things that don’t matter in one area that are mortal insults in another (eating with the left hand, etc.)?
  • What will people swear a binding oath by? What do people use as curse words?
  • What are the social taboos — what things are “not done,” like wearing a bathing suit to the office? What things are not talked about? What would happen if someone did? How do these taboos vary among the different races?Is population shifting from rural to urban, south to north, mountains to coast, etc.? Why — invasion, plague, gold rush, job opportunities, etc.? What effects has this had on the places being left? The places gaining people?
  • What do people at various levels of society do for fun?
  • How many people usually live in a typical house? How large is a typical house?
  • Are cities generally laid out on a square-grid system of streets, or do they just grow? How wide are the streets and alleys?
  • How are farming/food-producing areas divided up between humans/nonhumans? What kinds of conflicts are likely to result? (Example: Expanding human farms encroaching on a forest that dragons or werewolves use for hunting.)
  • What is the level of literacy in the general population? Is literacy considered a useful/necessary skill for nobility, or something only scribes/clerks/wimps/bourgeoisie need? How common are books? How are they produced?
  • Which days are general holidays or festival times? What do they celebrate? Are there any that are only celebrated in particular countries, cities, or regions?

The list goes on and on! I highly encourage you to check out the full article for yourself. If you can answer a significant number of these questions already, then you’re well on your way to master world building. If not, then this should give you something to think about.

Build safe and dream big!
Composite image of the Earth at night.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Press On or Fall Back

No hurtle is insurmountable, or so it’s said. Today, I muse about the importance of having “critique buddies.” If we show our work to anyone and they say “that’s nice” then we have been critiqued. Those simple words may not convey much enlightenment, but it still counts to a point. What I really want to talk about today is having someone that can be overtly honest with you about your craft and story.

For the past few months, I’ve worked at a feverish pace. Originally, my goal was to complete the first draft of my WIP by the end of July. Then, I pushed it back to the end of August. Now, I’m thinking Christmas is sounding really good. Why?

Well, life gets in the way sometimes, but more importantly, I found a hole in my story. I had relied too much on coincidence (IMHO) to bring the characters into the climactically emotional ending. Not wanting to be one for cliché (any more than necessary), it’s forced me to rethink the ending of my novel – or more precisely how the characters move from the middle to the end – the all important end of the second act.

Would things happen the way I originally envisioned so many months ago? Some of the original outline still rings true, some does not. For example, I removed one of the lead characters, so that changes the dynamics of the ending. The motivations of specific characters are slightly different than I had expected – usually more layered and complex than intended.

This brings me to a point where I have two choices: Leave what’s come before and forge a new, more self-motivated finale with the characters as they are OR go back and change their motivations to reach the end as I originally wanted them.

Ultimately, it came down to a decision which could go either way. Both options would be good, but “there can be only one.”

I have muddled around and wrestled with this issue for a couple of days, now. What finally brings me out of this “writer’s block” situation is the insight that only a critique buddy could offer. I’m lucky enough to have a couple such friends. Through hours of mulling over the possibilities this weekend and what’s come in the story before this point, they’ve given me a new direction that works much better than the original.

Will this change the end of the story? No. In fact, I’ll be back on track with the original outline in a few thousand words. But those words lead to the end of the second act and beginning of the all important climax. It’s slow going to ensure every critical detail is remembered while the tension builds for the final showdown.

Q4U: Do you have someone who’s honest enough to tell you when the story’s not working? Are you that person for someone else? Does it strengthen your story or just slow you down?