Meeting in the Middle

Can we introduce pivotal characters part way through the book? Yes. Pivotal characters can be introduced almost anywhere in the book with the exception of the end. A character can be repeatedly reference but not make a physical appearance until the end but if a pivotal character turns up at the end it all seems […]

Pushing Plot

The middle is where most of the plot happens and whether we’re writing a plot-led or a character-led story there is always a plot. This doesn’t have to be a complicated plot or have lots of subplots. Even if your story is about someone finding their way after the loss of a loved one that […]

The Piece That Doesn’t Fit

Having considered the idea of moving chapters around we also need to consider that we might need to replace or remove chapters completely. The need to do this isn’t a sign of bad writing, just as not needing to add or remove chapters isn’t a sign of good writing. All it is about is making […]

Death to Excess

We’ve looked at trimming out unnecessary bits from our prose but what about those characters who just don’t seem to be pulling their weight? The honest answer is that they’re probably going to have to go too. We all hate doing it, especially if we love the characters, but too many unnecessary characters can be […]

Dropping Breadcrumbs

Readers like a chance to work things out for themselves and infer meaning. By favouring showing over telling we give the reader a chance to build their own story within ours. As with any aspect of storytelling we have to find a balance within our writing but nobody can tell you what that is, you […]

When The End is Not The End

Another difficult form of ending is an ending where you know there’s going to be a sequel. This can be difficult because there are questions to answer at the end of book one, questions that will be answered through the series, and the things the reader might not even realise are questions in the first […]

Teasing Out a Tangle

Plot tangles are a fact of life, especially in the first draft, even Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens had plot tangles and they were prolific. The thing to do is not panic, I know that’s a cliché but realising there’s a tangle or a hole in your plot is not a disaster. These sorts of […]

Taking the Plot

Christopher Booker argues there are seven basic plots: Overcoming the monster Rags to riches The quest Voyage and return Comedy Tragedy Rebirth Others argue more and others argue fewer but the principle is the same; all stories have been told before. Now, as I said in Making the New From the Old, that doesn’t mean […]