It’s July! Which means I’M WITH CUPID will be officially out in a few days! I’m getting really excited for the launch party next week. Think people would be freaked out if I went around shooting them with love arrows? It’ll be my first time bringing the baby to a book event. We’ll see how that goes!
Okay, on to writing matters.
I’m working on revising the CUPID sequel, titled FINDERS, REAPERS, and even though I’m several drafts into the manuscript, there’s still a lot of work to do. One of my editor’s suggestions was to have more fun with the story, and I realized she was absolutely right. But I started to think about what this advice–advice I’ve given my students many times–actually means.
Here are a few things I came up with, and I think they apply to writing comedy as well as more serious stories.
If you think something is too stupid or too silly, try to run with it and see where it takes you. Sometimes the craziest ideas lead you to storytelling gold. Plus, it’s always easier to rein a story in than it is to amp it up.
-Keep Asking “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?”
I think sometimes we just don’t push our characters enough, either because we’re lazy or because we’re being too nice. But a story doesn’t really work if you’re not pushing characters to their breaking points. That’s when the really interesting things happen. So if your character makes a bad decision, for example, try to make the consequences of that decision as plausibly bad as you can.
-Write What Entertains You
This might seem obvious, but if you’re bored then your readers will be too. If you find yourself skimming scenes as you reread them, that might be a clue that something is awry. Or if there’s a scene that’s always felt a little off, be honest with yourself about it. I had this problem with a couple of scenes that I knew weren’t right, but I didn’t know how to fix them. A nudge from my editor pushed me to cut them out, and now I’m working away to replace them with ones that are (hopefully) better.
I think having fun with a story really means being brave. Letting your wacky side loose. Writing scenes that are so ridiculous that you know you’ll probably cut them. But sometimes those extreme, over-the-top ideas are the ones that will bring your story to the next level. And, if nothing else, having more fun with a manuscript means that your story will never be boring.