Last week, I shared about how much I hated my NaNoWriMo novel and how I got unstuck. This week, I’d like to share the wild and crazy ideas my friends gave me as I was wrestling with my inner critic and trying to figure out how to fix my broken story. Some of these suggestions were things I’ve used before; others were new to me. All of them have merit, especially if you are looking for ways to really shake things up.

The one thing these suggestions have in common is a sense of the extreme. The lesson I took away: You must be willing to do ANYTHING in your writing. For those of us who don’t really plan what we are going to write (known as “pantsers”, because we write by the seat of our pants), this is a Golden Truth about first drafts. Anything goes. Literally anything. Staying in that sense of the possible produces the most creative and surprising work, right along with the silliest and strangest.

Here, in no particular order, are the suggestions my friends made:

“Crash an airplane”… or a zeppelin, if you prefer.
  • In screenwriting, when we get stuck, we crash an airplane. It always works. If you’re in an era in which there are no airplanes, have a witch on a broom crash…or blow something up… —  Judy Fort Brenneman
  • Do something drastic. Have an asteroid drop on the situation and start over with whatever rises from the ashes. I mean, a COMPLETE blow-it-up. Vestiges of what you were working on will appear to have survived. What are they? — Deborah Robson
  • Maybe add in a scene from a different point-of-view and see if that change in perspective helps?
    My favorite sometimes non-serious advice is to have something fall onto the characters — literally or figuratively — that wasn’t foreshadowed, like the cliché “dead body falling down the stairs when they open the door.” — Jami Gold
  • Sounds like you need to go in a new direction, even if it invalidates a lot of what you have already written. My first thought is to introduce an entirely new character (or two or three). Maybe even someone with no relationship, yet, to the existing protagonists? — Kelleen Casey
  • Someone wakes up and it was all a bad dream.
    Someone finds a device that allows them to step into an alternate reality… and some how loses the device/key that will let them get back. Characters have different personalities, past events had different outcomes, protagonist is fish out of water. Protagonist loses/ finds love interest through this plot twist. — Josie Bergstrom
  • Step out the story and give your main character a dream. Then analyse it and then go back to the story and there should be some scene inspiration that’s magically evolved while you’ve been off dreaming… — Sara Litchfield
  • Get crazy. Jump around in your story. Write something that doesn’t fit, like zombie vampire clowns from outer space that turn everyone they bite into clones of the world’s most hated celebrities. — A. Marie Silver
  • “Road Trip!” Have a character or characters go somewhere. Get them out of their comfort zone. Shake-up their world by taking them out of it. — Christina Anne Hawthorne
  • What’s your main character’s biggest fear? Write a bit about why they’re afraid of that thing. It really helps me.
    You can write a scene out of order. That’s my other favorite trick. Good luck! — Jenny Hansen
"Introduce a new character"... or a clown, or  a giant, or maybe a giant clown.
“Introduce a new character”… or a clown, or a giant, or maybe a giant clown.

Have you every hated the story you were writing? What did you do to get over the hate?

15 thoughts on “Hate Your Novel? Fix It — Get Crazy”

  1. I’m bookmarking this for the next time I hate my story or am struggling to move it along 🙂 I had that thought when I saw all the comments on fb – so awesome you laid them out here!

    1. My selfish reason for this post was to have all these great ideas in one place for future reference. I’m glad someone else is looking forward to using them, too!

  2. This is all very good advice. 🙂

    Honestly, I’ve never really hated a story I’ve written. Everything I write, good or bad, is a learning process.

    1. This is the first time I’ve ever hated my own writing, and I’ve written more than ten novels. I did find posts where other writers talked about this as a phenomenon (hating your book at some point during writing it). But they all said the same thing: Keep going! I found these tricks really helped me to get past my hate and move on. I’m now having fun again and really enjoying writing my novel.

      1. Just be warned. I didn’t realize it could happen to me until it did. Happy writing!

  3. Where are your share buttons, girlie?! You’ve gotta have share buttons so we don’t have to work to spread your brilliance around. 🙂

    You’ll find them on your WordPress dashboard at the bottom left: Settings –> Sharing.

  4. I had a point earlier in the month where I felt my Nano novel was boring, just people talking and nothing happening. I kept comparing it to last year’s (which was the previous novel in the same series) and remembering all the “events” in it, and feeling like there weren’t any big “events” in this one. I got quite down about it and didn’t want to write any more. I was probably about 30k words into it at the time.

    So (just because I was procrastinating and putting off writing) I went back to the beginning and read what I’d written. And then I realised that plenty of things were happening, I’d just kind of forgotten the earlier parts in the rush of writing. I got into the story again and started enjoying it.

    So maybe that’s something to try when you’re not happy with the story. Reread what you’ve got and try to rekindle the enthusiasm you had for the original idea.

    1. That’s a great suggestion, Marina. I’m often amazed at how much stuff I forgot I wrote, and there can be good things in there, just waiting for me to remember them. Glad you found your enthusiasm. Good luck with your novel!

  5. I did the NanoWriMo a couple of times, the group we have is crazy, they meet all the time at places like Panera Bread, B&N, etc. They have parties, plays, and covered dish dinners. When you attend a writing gathering you have to be careful about leaving your notebook or laptop or whatever alone while you go get something to eat or drink or go to the rest room because someone will add some writing of their own in there somewhere. They also write down the crazy remarks that are said throughout the month then create a story using this remarks. Yes, a very crazy group of people!

    Do you have a group in your area and if so, do they do things like this?

    1. There’s an active group in my town. I’ve been to kickoff costume parties and some write-ins. The group also does challenges, like putting a given phrase somewhere in their book. I’ve never had anyone add to my writing, however. Your group sounds creative and fun.

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