When in Doubt, Burn It Down
Have you ever reached a point in your story where your characters stop talking to you, the plot stalls, and you’re banging your head against the keyboard trying to figure out how to fix the problem? You try and push through it by doing research, sketching out the plot points or letting your mind wander while you clean house, but nothing works. So, what do you do once your bathroom is sparkling and you still haven’t come to a solution?
Kill someone. Or, if that isn’t practical for your story, burn something important to the ground.
It sounds violent, and it is, but that’s the point. A dramatic event forces your characters to act and react, and that is what drives the story. The death of a character will create new tensions and conflicts with physical and emotional repercussions. How your hero and heroine react to these stressful situations will reveal who they are and how they have grown and changed. If your hero simply steps over the dead body and keeps walking, then you might have some work to do. A friend of mine who write paranormal romance likes this method, as does another author friends who writes romantic suspense.
If killing characters isn’t your thing, or appropriate for your book, then burn something down. Does your heroine have a favorite house, the one she can’t live without? Is she wandering around in your story, not sure where to go, or refusing to submit to your grand plot designs? If so, then burn her house down. That’ll get her story and your creativity moving.
Julia, the heroine of my October Harlequin Historical Engagement of Convenience has a family home that she loves. While I was writing the first draft of Julia and James’ story, they stopped talking to me and telling me where they wanted to go. I struggled for weeks, and then one day, I threatened to burn Julia’s beloved home to the ground. Thankfully, just the threat of torching her house seemed to jar her and me out of our rut and I didn’t have to set fire to her manor house. However, I did do something drastic in the story but I won’t tell you what. I don’t want to ruin it for you.
If these suggestions seem too violent, don’t worry, not every stalled story needs to ratchet up the body count or lay waste to beautiful manor houses. The idea is to do something powerful in order to spark character growth and, on another level, author development. Creating a dramatic event in the story might be just the thing to snap you out of your writer’s block, and get you successfully to “The End.”
About Engagement of Convenience
Julia Howard longs for the freedom her inheritance will bring her—but with her controlling brother holding the purse strings, she’s going to need a most convenient engagement… An encounter in the woods with a dashing stranger couldn’t be more timely.
Wounded, his life at sea at an end, Captain James Covington isn’t prepared for the dull ache of civilian life. He sees in Julia a fellow adventurous spirit—willing to risk all. Could agreeing to her outrageous proposal help him recapture a reason to live as they face the biggest adventure of all—marriage?
About the Author
A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.
Her first novel, Lady’s Wager, and her contemporary novella, Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood, and Studio Relations, a love story set in 1935 Hollywood, are currently available from Montlake Romance. Hero’s Redemption, a Regency novella, is now available from Carina Press.
When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit www.georgie-lee.com for more information about Georgie and her novels.
I have villains who show up when that happens, or something like that. It definitely gets everyone exercised and talking again. Tweeted and shared on FB.