Change Directions?

by Arianna
(Baltimore, MD, USA)

Question: I'm writing a story right now and I've just started a complete rewrite that was badly, badly needed. Now that I'm looking over my book, though, I'm beginning to feel a little bored with the storyline. There's certainly a lot of action and a lot of emotion, but the middle of my story seems to me a bit... I don't know, lacking, somehow.

Maybe it's just my own hunger for excitement and thrills. :D
But I want this book to be action-packed and entertaining, so I need to know here which plot you think sounds more enticing (from a reader's perspective).

PLOT ONE- In the first plot, the one with which I went originally, the MC (7-yr-old kidnappee) ran away from her kidnapper's apartment one night to stay with a character who is very important to the story throughout. (I know this plot sounds unrealistic, but I've arranged the circumstances so that really, it isn't.)

PLOT TWO- In the alternative plot, the one I'm contemplating putting into affect, the MC still ends up running away but this time she finds herself clinging to a street family (they're becoming a very common inner-city thing now, and for whatever reason, they inspire me) before finally reuniting with that previously mentioned background character.

Please help! I'm leaning toward the second plot, but I'm not sure if that sounds too confusing or if there's something else that might draw a reader away.

Thank you for any responses I receive! I'm so grateful! :)

Question: Middles have been a challenge for most writers since probably the invention of stories. Yet they are also necessary, since without them, the resolution would be too easy.

I don't know how much planning you have done, but I hope you have at least worked out a 4-act structure (setup -> complication -> move to crisis -> resolution). If not, do look at some of the articles and Q&A on my site because I do talk about this. That same 4-part structure can be applied to each subplot, throughline, act, sequence, scene, etc.

You should know where your story is going, how it will end, and how the main character will resolve her inner conflict. (Will she change or remain steadfast? If she changes, how will she change? Will the story goal be achieved?)

As for your two choices... I'm going to guess that, since she is running away from her kidnapper by the start of act 2, the person/people she stays with are going to have an impact on her. One of them will be the impact character who offers her an example of a different way to handle problems or pressures her to change. She may have even seen this person before (at a distance perhaps). This person's influence on her grows and is instrumental in determining the choice she makes at the climax and whether the story goal is achieved.

So what you have to ask yourself is which character is in a better position to offer the MC an alternative approach. If she will change in the end, who can offer her what she needs to change and grow? If she must remain steadfast to win, who can tempt her to take the wrong path?

Only you can figure this out , because only you know your character. But that is the key.

Watching the character get tempted to take a different approach, seeing her wrestle internally over what do so, watching her relationship with the impact character progress... this will help keep your reader (and you) interested.

One other note... if you're feeling bored with your story, the reader will be bored too. So make the story awesome. Make it something that moves you. Experiment with different ideas until something clicks and you get excited again. Usually, it's a case of strengthening the emotional landscape of the story, either by tightening the overall plot or the arc of the main character's growth, or one of the other throughlines.

Best of luck.

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Jun 13, 2013
by: Arianna

Thank you so much for this very helpful response! I'm going to think about my MC and where I want her to go with this and about the side character that helps her come to the book's resolution- thank you so much! :)

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