By Susan A.J. Lyttek
“Curses,” Robin Hood muttered, obviously not intending I hear. But I have great ears. “I had pleaded with her to cease this interference.” He bowed to me again. “My apologies, milady. We appear to be at the mercy of the author.”
“Author? As in the writer of a story?”
He nodded. “Do not fret. When I wander off and leave the scene, all will return to normal, whatever thy version of normal might be. She will not prolong my visit. I will speak with thee and then disappear.”
The text above is from a work in progress. In every full-length fiction piece I have written, Robin Hood has entered the story at some point. He doesn’t stay there, but he talks to my main character until I get a better idea of where the story is going. Like tossing an explosive into a mine, it releases new material that may be stuck to the walls and reveals gems that I didn’t notice before. It totally mixes up the equation and gives me a fresh start.
So no matter how much Robin pleads his case, he will continue to show up in my works-in-progress. He has been in a children’s comedy, other-worldly fantasies, science fiction, and even current days mysteries. He steps on the scene, gets my characters motivated to do what they need to do and then leaves.
What else can be done if Robin (or his equivalent) doesn’t help you finish the novel?
1) Add a dose of the unexpected. Think of something that would totally surprise your character and then add it to the scene.
2) Add a natural calamity or two. Adverse weather always shakes things up a bit.
3) Introduce a new villain. Have someone else come on the scene that doesn’t want your hero to succeed.
4) Introduce some comic relief. Add a character that will make the reader laugh.
5) Add a new subplot. What else compels your main character? Perhaps she’s solving a mystery, but doesn’t have a good friend. Introduce the search for friendship.
6) Allow a glimpse of the end. Give your reader (and main character) a taste of what life will be like once the conflict has resolved. Show a scene, a respite, with life happy and content.
7) Or jump ahead and write a scene from the ending. It may give you the motivation to actually get there.
“But why bring you in at all?”
“The middle of the tale plagues her. I understand it not. However, she drags me into the narrative, I speak with the main character, and somehow that allows her to carry on. You must suffer me for this one visit, and I do offer heartfelt apologies for that, but I meet every person she values. Yet do I stay? No. She needs edit me out of each finished tale.”
But that is the key. They are finished. May these tricks take you to finished, too!
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of four novels, award-winning writer, blogger, wife and mother to two homeschool graduates, writes in time snippets and on random pieces of scratch paper. She also enjoys training up the next generation of writers by coaching middle and high school students.