A Stump on your Writing Road
Have you ever written like there was no stopping you until out of nowhere you’re writing are just empty words, that make no sense?
This is not an issue on grammar or punctuation, I’m assuming you have taken care of that, what I’m talking about is your story. There are times where you will have to erase an entire chapter and start over or risk approving a chapter with flaws—your chapters shouldn’t leave you feeling insecure, so here is an example of what too look for.
You’re editing is running smooth:
As I’m working through the final edits of Lola: Aftermath of The Birth, my biggest stump was the climax of the novel—you know, the best part you can write! I spent two days on one single chapter erasing, shifting sentences around, adding new scenes, and dialogue, but nothing I did in the past that resolved current stump helped! I was frustrated, and started averting my eyes from the chapter to look at my phone, and when I came back to write, I dreaded every minute reading on repeat.
A chapter that runs smoothly will feel like the current of the wind, and although you are the one who wrote it, you will find yourself being drifted alongside the story. You can test this by not reading your book for a day and going back to see if you get the same effect. Granted, you will probably edit a word or two along the way, but that’s what you’re supposed to do.
Show a chapter to a reader:
I recommend taking a chapter or chunk to a reader you trust. If they say “you forgot a comma,” thank your lucky star because you can fix that, but if they say “I’m sorry—what does the clerk have anything to do with what’s going on with MC?” then you better start rolling your sleeves.
That is the sinking hole I was stuck in, I gave my chapter to my husband and warned him, “You’re not going to like this, but trust me it was far worse than it was.” He reads it while I wait for him to be done and you can hear my words virtually stab him with reactions that made him say “What!?” “That doesn’t make any sense!” I almost curled into a ball when he finished the chapter, but that’s how I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone, that chapter needs a lot of work.
What happens if you don’t fix it now:
Plot holes! If you think your readers are not going to catch on, then you are clearly underestimating them. I am always going back to my manuscripts and digging through my notebooks to make sure all of my future volumes will remain consistent. To resolve it—you have put in the work, the last thing you want to do is create a last-minute phony excuse to explain why your protagonist or antagonist did the thing they did, because again—your reader will know.
How I fixed my stump, and how you can fix yours:
I read and edited the same eleven pages with 3,975 words with a sick stomach (figuratively speaking), and it turns out what caused my nausea was the end of the chapter. The beginning was rich and had me at my seat, but then the excitement started to dwindle in the middle, where the end did not deliver what the highest point a novel should give. In fairness, I thought my problem was the first few paragraphs but that was because I could not recognize which was the weaker scene, so to guide you:
- Separate your chapter in half.
- If the climax is more than a chapter long, outline each scene.
- Is your character suddenly making choices than he/she would not normally do? Add validity to that reason so it will make sense.
- Outlandish actions can lead to cheesy or predictable scenes, so don’t depend on the element of surprise.
- How do you get rid of stains? You rinse and repeat, keep editing, keep asking for feedback, and don’t give up.