Today, I read through my entire NaNoWriMo. I’d gotten some really good writing sessions in but I had no idea that I was about halfway through my 50,000 word goal. Yay! But then I read through it. Boo! I made the classic new writer mistake – one that I pretty much always do at this point – which is not including enough detail. I’m not really beating myself up too much because it’s NaNoWriMo and the name of the game is 50,000 words. I can always go back and add detail later.
I did, however, notice that my storyline is almost over. So let’s recap. I’m about 25,000 words into my story and I could pretty much wrap it up in another 10,000. No wonder my first book, A Light in the Darkness was only about 30,000 words. It’s my lack of detail! But it’s also a bit more than just that. It's my conflict. I need more conflict.
Let me give you a basic idea of how a typical plot works and how we get to our ultimate conflict moment. You start with a big bang (inciting incident) then back off, then you gradually crescendo until you reach the climax, then you take it another step further, to the black moment, then you finish up with, perhaps, a happy ending.
I’m at the point where things are starting to get really tense. The black moment is around the corner. I can feel it coming…but wait! I forgot one important thing.
Knock the hero down, then kick him in the ribs.
My hero is about to be kicked, without the initial knock down. This simply won’t do. It doesn’t create the element of surprise nor does it lead to the level of suspense I’m looking to achieve. Sure, I could have one turn, one surprise, one big kick to the ribs, but why have one when you could do two? It makes the book much more exciting. Plus it creates an emotional roller coaster for your reader that hopefully will make them fall even more in love with your character.
Remember, readers want to connect to the hero/heroine. They want to feel their pain, laugh at their silly antics, cry along with their distress. I recently read Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren, and at one point, I said outloud, “Oh Markos (the main character)" with genuine sympathy as if Markos was standing in front of me, then got teary eyed at the event taking place (hey, it was a good story, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that it brought tears). I was right there with him, getting knocked down, getting kicked in the ribs. Sure, she could have only picked one incident, but man-oh-man, the two together blew me away.
Think of some of your favorite stories. I bet you can point out the ups and downs, the climax, the black moment. Now look at your story. What are you missing? Now roll up your sleeves and get back to work!