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Extreme Book Makeover: 7 Twists and Turns to add to your novel!

A great story is plotted by looking inside your character, figuring out what his lie is – and how this journey will somehow set him free – and then putting him in situations that make him confront his lies, his flaws and his weaknesses until he takes a good look at himself, figures out what he wants, and charges forward into a new future.

I know, that’s a bit oversimplified, but a story, boiled down, is simply about a character’s inner change, brought about by the external circumstances.
However, how do we make those circumstances intriguing enough to keep our readers’ attention?

At My Book Therapy, we have a character change chart/questions that helps us generate ideas on this journey. However, if you’ve already plotted this journey, and are still stuck, here are 7 ways to add more “trouble” or Twists and Turns into your plot.

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Rachel Hauck, Princess Ever After, royals, royalty

The Solution of Tension

We’ve also been watching the TV show Nashville on iTunes. It’s a night time soap opera set around country music.

Hubby and I make a game of “calling it.” What’s going to go wrong, when and how.

It’s almost NOT fun to watch TV shows where you know, just know, someone is going to do something stupid to mess up a budding romance or promising job.

Husband hates it. He doesn’t want to watch people be so stupid.

I get why the TV show writers do this… to drag the viewers along. To create a “Oh no, what’s going to happen?” curiosity.

In television, the writing goes from episode to episode and the writing is “episodic.”

Meaning from week to week, the tension and threads change to fit that show while carrying story threads forward.

For example, twenty years after they first toured together, country great Rayna James and Luke Wheeler get together. They’ve been married to other people and have children.

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Rachel Hauck

Extreme Book Makeover: Widen your plot to keep your middle from sagging!

Do you feel like the tension in your story has started to sag?

That you are simply rehashing old plot problems? It can be a challenge in Act 2 to keep the reader caring, the story filled with enough tension to keep the pages turning.

I watched Saving Mr. Banks this weekend. Wanted to love it. But it had a few problems. The main character (Pamela) suffered from a fatal case of unlike ability, even with her backstory – and got redeemed too late. But that’s another topic. Bigger was the issue that, aside from Walt Disney wanting to keep a promise to his daughter (the stakes of the story), we simply stopped caring about the character, mostly due to her obsessive need to get the story right.

Thankfully, the story tension is resuscitated by the backstory, and the fear of young Pamela losing her father.

In other words, Peripheral Plotting saved the day.

If your story seems to be going in circles, or worse, dying…this trick just might give it the life it needs to hang on.

Peripheral Plotting is the technique of pulling in ancillary elements and using them to create more tension in your plot. Ideally, it will push your character along their journey, creating more sympathy for your character – and even motivation for their next choices.

How does Peripheral Plotting work?

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Rachel Hauck, Princess Ever After

When The Backstory IS The Story

Sometimes writing a story takes a left turn.

The normal structure just doesn’t seem to work.

You can’t seem to get any life when writing scenes in the present day.

But every time you reference the past or the backstory, wow, things happen. The story pops. You’re excited about writing.

Sometimes a story’s backstory is so large it really IS the story.

This is different than backstory drifts where the author wanders off the main stage and “reminisces” of some past event with prose.

I’m talking about when the set up of the story, the life of the characters before the story opens is so large and complicated the present day story, the on stage scenes, really exist to highlight the backstory.

At this point, your book is about fixing and healing the past and bring the characters to a new place in life.

Most of the time, backstory sprinkles a story with motivation, helps expose the wound and lie and fear.

But it’s minor.

The problem on the stage, the present day story, is what drives the scenes.

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