1. Drop the Bomb! — Don’t hold out on the “big” reveal or what you think is the big story point if your story calls for it to be done now. Otherwise, you’ll write in circles. In Dining with Joy, I wanted the black moment to be when Joy was outed on public TV as a fraud. But by the middle of the book, I knew I had to drop the bomb THEN. So I did. Then I could develop a new black moment fitting the story.
2. Tell the Secret! — Find a juicy secret in your characters you didn’t know existed when you started. When writing Softly and Tenderly with Sara Evans, I discovered that our bad boy Rebel Benson not only knew of his wife’s affair, but doubted his paternity of their son. Wow! It was a game changer for me.
3. Add a bit! — Do something funny. Have a layer that creates humor, or even tension. In the movie, The Proposal, the little white puppy, Kevin, was “a bit.” The screenwriter used him three times to cause humorous tension for Margaret Tate.
4. Secondary characters. — Layer in those secondary characters. Your protagonist needs friends and/or family to talk to!
5. Bring in a new problem (Peripheral Plotting) (Story Layering!) — Add a problem for a secondary character that impacts the protagonist.
6. Do the unexpected! (Make up something or someone wild!) — Again in Softly and Tenderly, I sent my wounded and betrayed heroine, Jade, on a road trip with her dying mother, spurned mother-in-law in a ’65 pink Cadillac!
7. Cause and Effect. — Remember every cause has an effect. In other words, if you have a action, have a reaction. Don’t forget to weave those story and emotional layers.
8. Avoid circular writing. (See drop the bomb.) — The reader doesn’t need three chapters of the heroine deciding if she wants to go out with the hero. One or two scenes is enough. But the third scene, up the tension by raising the stakes if she goes out with him. Or, if she refuses!
9. Ramp up the dialog. (Tell the story between the quotes.) — I say “tell the story between the quotes.” This means, let the juicy tidbits and information come out of the mouths of the characters, not be “told” in prose. Why? Because then the other characters can react and this ramps up your tension.
10. Research. — You can find out all kinds of good things that will layer and add depth to your novels, especially in the middle as the plot thickens. Dig deep for those tidbits.
With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel. A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 17 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and dog.
Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her latest release is Once Upon A Prince. Go forth and write!
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