A few months ago I was making great progress editing the first draft of my book when I reached a chapter in which nothing much happened. The main character spent a pleasant evening with her friend, but she was simply filling her in on things the reader already knew, and the plot wasn’t being moved forward in any way.
At that time my novel stood at around 140,000 words, so I wasn’t afraid of deleting anything, in fact this length being on the far side of acceptable I was happy to. So I kept small sections I thought could be used elsewhere, deleted the chapter and moved on to the next. There I came across the same problem: nothing new was being said and nothing would be lost by deleting it.
Now I started to panic, because while I usually enjoy getting rid of poor or unnecessary material it suddenly seemed as if I was starting to delete my entire book! Feeling a little desperate I typed ‘writers who give up on their books’ into Google and clicked on author KM Weiland’s blog post, 3 Signs You Should Give Up on Your Story. It was a great post explaining why she had given up on a book she’d worked on for more than two years, but it wasn’t this that pulled me out of the hole I’d fallen into, it was the treasure trove of advice on her website that convinced me all was not lost with my book after all.
KM Weiland enjoys the process of writing as much as writing itself and has written incredibly interesting and detailed series on How to Structure Your Story, How to Structure Scenes, How to Write Character Arcs, and Most Common Writing Mistakes, as well as other inspiring blog posts. You name it, she’s covered it. The chapters I deleted fell into her ‘old ground recovered’ and ‘filler scenes’ categories, both boring for the reader, and I was right to get rid of them. An afternoon spent reading her posts helped my sinking confidence to rise again and I went back to my novel with renewed enthusiasm and far greater insight into how to improve it.
Writing a good book is a huge challenge and if, like me, you’re looking for someone to shine a light on the process and offer support when doubt sets in, you should head over to KM Weiland’s excellent website, Helping Writers Become Authors.