A couple of months ago, I had been reading over a novel I had written last year. I wanted to see if I would be able to save it or if was really dead. As I was reading, I noticed that my characters sounded like robots. There was no real reaction to the events that happened to them and when they did react it was too much. I couldn’t believe that I had done this. Was this something I could fix? I believe this situation happens to a lot of new and seasoned writers especially when you write a quick and dirty first draft. The problem was there were no sequels. Let me first explain what scenes and sequels are. If scenes are where the action happens, sequels are where the reaction happens.
So how do I fix this:
- Take a deep breath. If you’re like me you’re probably threatening to rip up your novel and cursing the gods for giving you such a dump idea. Chill out. This is totally fixable. All you need is some patience.
- Section off each scene. I usually print out the entire story and then separate it into smaller sections. For example Chapter 1 Scene 1. But this can be accomplished on scrivener or Word as well.
- Make a Goal, Motivation, Conflict chart for each protagonist if you don’t already have one. I even make a GMC for the antagonist as well. Make sure you take your time on this. It’s easy to just rush through this step just so you can get back to your story. This is the most important item to not make characters sound like robots. Believe me I tried to fix sequels without this and failed terribly. Knowing character’s GMC’s will help create the correct emotion you need.
- Go through each scene with your GMC charts and add the correct reaction to every event. This will take time so be patient. Remember Deep Breaths. I usually find that when I add sequels I try to make them short and sweet because I tend to add too much of a reaction. If they need to be longer I will add more detail. I usually like to show my characters struggling with a decision caused by the event that happened previously. I feel like this creates tension.
- For sequels that are too long. Trim them. Get to the meat of the reaction and move on to the action.
How do you fix sequels?
I never thought I would fall in love with the romance genre until I started my internship. Before, I viewed romance as weeping women and Fabio’s coming in to save them but that is just one spectrum of the genre. But I slowly realized I had been in love with it all along. Hadn’t I swooned over books because of the romance? No, I had never written a romance novel but hadn’t almost every story I had written included a romance plot line.
Out of all the stories I have read during my internship, the ones that stick out to me are the ones that have interesting Meet Cutes. Granted there is more a book must have to make it good but when I see a meet cute I like that usually is a step in the right direction. Before I go any further let me explain what exactly a meet cute is. It’s when the two love interests meet each other. Simple, right? But it’s surprising how many authors miss out on the chance to make their work stand out from the rest by making the most out of this moment. Most meet cutes are too boring or way over the top that it’s hard for me to suspend my disbelief.
This is such an important detail that now I take time out to think about my meet cutes before I even start drafting. Many of the submissions I read, the couple meets at a bar or party, which is fine. I think a lot people meet their potentials mates at bars. Or in my case potential disasters. But after reading the same thing over and over they all seem to blur together.
So how do you make a meet cute that stands out from the rest of the crowd? Here are five tips I use:
- Choose a location wisely. If there are a lot of people at the location, seclude the couple. The reason bar scenes don’t work is because there are too many people being introduced. As a reader, I don’t want Jane and Joe friends names shoved down my throat when I haven’t even gotten to know them yet.
- Let them meet early in the story, preferably the first scene/chapter in a romance. In other genres there is more leeway but if possible make sure it happens in the first act.
- Create a situation that will highlight the character’s personalities: (Is the guy a show off, does she get embarrassed easily). Showing off a character’s personality is a great way for a reader to get to know them.
- Start budding the romance (How do they view each? Do they touch a little and it sends waves of chemistry? Make it impossible for them to forget this moment.)
- Set up the conflict. This is the key element. It is so important to create a physical or emotion obstacle that is standing in their way of being together. (During the meet cute, it’s not important to show all the obstacles but it’s a great idea to hint at it.) It will set up the romance plot for the rest of the story.
In your current story, how does your couple meet and how do you try to make it unique?
Let me first start off by saying I have missed my blog. It has been a long time since I posted anything on here. I actually thought about shutting it down since I hadn’t wrote anything in over nine months but then I changed my mind. If I had the courage to put this blog up in the first place then I should keep it, right? Even if I’m just sharing my thoughts with myself.
Over these past few months, I haven’t written or read many books. I have been in this funk where doing those two things seemed like torture. Looking back now, I think I needed the break. I got so overwhelmed that my passion turned into a chore and that’s no bueno. Things are slowly getting back to normal and I feel the writing bug buzzing inside of me. I have learned so much and I want to share it.
To hold myself accountable there will be some changes to here:
Buried in the Slush Pile: Weekly tips/rants I have seen as an editorial intern. (Don’t worry I won’t be using any exact examples from people’s work) I figured this would be a great way to keep track of what I learned for my future work and also to share with you guys.
Book Love Fridays: Which will be a book Review or a rant about a book.
I also might throw in some random things here and there just to spice things up.
I’m happy to be back!