What do you do when you realize that you may have not put enough complicating factors into your story?

And I mean those complicating factors that drive your story. Sure, if you’re writing a road trip novel you can throw in a flat tire here or there–but the flat tire in and of itself is not a driving factor in the story. The moment when the tire goes flat can help push a snapping moment in a character by increasing the frustration just *that* much, but the tire itself is not the interesting part. We don’t want to hear about how the hubcap rolled away, or the jacking up process, or details about the tire iron. A reader wants to hear the problems about the character.

There’s a problem if there’s not enough messed up with the characters to start with because, once you’ve decided the frustration from a flat tire is enough to make him blow, the emotional response you were hoping to get from the scene falls flat and no one cares that this dude is yelling expletives at a flat tire.

If there’s no emotional response in the reader, it’s probably because you didn’t mess the character up enough.

I’m running into such an issue at the moment.

I thought that I’d built tension enough, but I think that the character doesn’t have enough ‘oomph’ behind him at the moment. Maybe I’m wrong, I’ll leave it to my saintly first readers to figure it out and tell me what’s up. Still, I can’t help thinking that, at the very least, I’m being repetitive in this scene and repetition does not equal drama.

Writing Problems

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. It's a Maass trick I like: think of your character's worst fear, and make it come true. Then make it worse if you can.

    I've been where you are. But when you figure out how to get that punch in there, it's really fun.

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