I wasn’t lying to you the other week, I promise. Those “cheats” I talked about in my Friday post a couple of weeks ago really are the first ones I go to when I get stuck with a scene. But soon after writing that post, I realised that there are two more fixes I look to quite often if the other two fail. If the previous two cheats work 80% of the time, these take up another 15% at least.
And who knows, maybe they’ll work for you even more often!
1. Changing the Timing
One of the wonderful things about stories is that they don’t have to be linear. If your scene – or overall story – isn’t working, maybe it’s time to change up the order you’re telling it in.
Writers achieve this in various ways. You can begin the story in the future then launch back to the past, go back and forth between past and future, or even tell the story backwards. Just remember that whatever you do, you need to clear things up at some point. Lots of people who play with time in their stories like to use it as an element of surprise; they’ll wait until the end before revealing that the disgruntled old man in the future story is the joyful, carefree protag in the past. If you do it right, this method can both fix your story/scene and make your story even more memorable.
But this is a cautionary tale. It’s not easy to change time (and I should know – one of my books is based entirely around time travel). Time should still make sense, it’s simply reordered. If you make the string of events too confusing for the reader to follow, they won’t stay with you.
2. Changing the Mood
If everything else fails you, take a look at the mood of the scene. What would happen if you changed happy to sad? Hurried to relaxed?
You can also examine the moods of the scenes that the problem scene is sandwiched between. It could be that all three scenes have the same mood, which is the root of the problem right there. Even having two scenes in a row with the same mood is iffy if there’s no variation. Try starting off the scene with a different mood and see how you feel about it after a few paragraphs; you’ll probably be able to tell right away if it’s working or not.
In a way, this mood change can also slot into the conflict factor I talked about last week – but remember that while adding conflict always changes the mood, changing the mood doesn’t always add conflict. Usually, it just changes the type of conflict in that scene.
I hope you find these new cheats helpful in your writing. Again, it’s a good idea to bookmark this page; you never know when you’ll need a quick fix! And as always, if these cheats aren’t working and you need some more help, I’m happy to look over a scene or story for you; that’s what I do for a living! My rates start at just $10 for feedback on a flash fiction story or an individual scene.
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Psst! A reminder for you all: this is the last day to sign up for my beta reader list before I send out my new fantasy short story that I’m entering for a competition! I want your help! All you have to do is read the story and give me your honest thoughts. Find out how to sign up here!
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When you write as much as I do, you have to take frequent breaks from sitting. A standing desk (not a whole desk, but a mini desk that will sit on top of my current desk with my laptop, keyboard, and mouse and extend upward) will allow me to continue working while maintaining that good blood flow to my brain. Thank you so much for your support that allows me to keep producing free content. God bless you! ♥️ E.J.Donate