Do you know what my biggest plot issue was when I first wrote The Shadows of Sylvara series? It was having everything go smoothly all the time. No joke. So something would happen and my characters would just magically have the ability to deal with it. I did mention before that magic does have its limits right? Well inventing things as you go along should be one of those limits!
In real life, we want things to go smoothly. We want our trip to go off without a hitch and any surprises better be positive. We want our celebration to not be ruined by a crabby relative or someone’s ex, so we don’t invite them. Perfect weather, great driving conditions, no deer/moose/elephant on the road, everything is on time, and you even hit all the pokestops while driving by.
But reading about how the hero stumbled upon the magical sword just as they were about to gain their title of knight and go on to expertly slay the evil usurper to save the day while nothing they can’t handle gets in their way would be a little boring.
Ok, a lot boring.
We want the rawness of personal growth, which includes pain and loss and hardship. We want them to persevere and gain the victory, but only after they were so low they just about gave up. Throw those obstacles in their way, let them fall only to get back up again, let them be saved by unlikely sources, let them lose. I think one of my favorite memes (and this is a rough idea of what it said, as I can’t find it at the moment) was that you need to lead your character to the top of the tree only to turn around and throw stones at them. Rough translation, get your character to the place they want to be, but make sure you place something in their way once they get there. Think Indianna Jones grabbing the totem from the rock only to end up being chased by a giant boulder.
So, my friends, keep your story moving, keep the pace going, and don’t let a scene stagnate because you love the conversation. I know I’ve touched on this before, but ensure there’s always something going on. Every scene doesn’t have to have a life changing event. Keeping the tension can be as simple as an argument, a realization, a change in attitude, or yes, even sex. Once your scenes are down and you’re at the editing phase of your writing, evaluate the scenes and ask yourself what they are bringing to the story. Does it advance the story? Does it give us deeper insight on your character? Did something happen?
Essentially, does this scene encourage you to read the next scene? If you keep nothing else in mind, remember this question. Because that’s what it’s all about, getting the reader to continue on with your story.
That’s it for now, fair winds and good flying my friends!