Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What to do When Your Novel Falls Flat

Troubleshooting Your Novel
by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

One quarter of the way through my current writing project, I realized the story had fallen flat.
No interest.
No insight into my characters’ inner turmoil.
No excitement about building the plot.
No display of courage and stamina from my characters.
No romantic attraction between my hero and heroine.
No high-stake scenes to keep the reader turning pages.

I didn’t know whether to start over, hit Delete, or seek out a psychiatrist.

I chose none of the above. But I did brew a pot of coffee.

Instead I conducted an analysis of what had gone wrong.

My evaluation revealed:
I liked the story premise.
My characters possessed solid potential.
The plot had a unique and challenging twist.
I was vested in creating a story packed with unforgettable moments and a true adventure.
The problem was a lack of passion in my characters, which meant I’d failed to show characters who genuinely cared about reaching a goal—and why.

When I finished the process of exploring my errors and revisiting my story, the result is a strong story that I’m excited to share with readers.

Here are five ways to add life to your novel when it falls flat.
  1. Be honest. When a story isn’t working, a writer knows it. Stop, look, and listen. Because writer, a garbage truck critic is heading your way.
  2. Be fair. You are a writer, and every writer begins a project with enthusiasm. Celebrate the good words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs.
  3. Be brutal. If a passage stinks to you, then it will stink to the reader. Remember the garbage truck is looking for a way to destroy your story. Some precious words need to go.
  4. Be devoted. Reconstructing a novel is not a hurried endeavor. Reword. Rephrase. Move passages around. Most importantly, take your time. Work on the novel when you are excited about making this your best writing project ever.
  5. Be joyful. How amazing that you discovered the flaws in the story and not an agent, editor or reader. Nothing is wasted in the creation of a story. You are an artist.

Not every novel will tear out your heart, but every novel deserves a fair evaluation. Our gift of communicating a story through the written word means taking the time to perfect it for our readers.

Be honest, fair, brutal, devoted, and joyful. Where will your novel analysis take you?

What to do when your novel falls flat - @DiAnnMills (Click to Tweet)

There are things to do when your story isn't coming together - @DiAnnMills (Click to Tweet)

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Suspense Sister, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson. She teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook:, Twitter: or any of the social media platforms listed at


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  3. Another helpful post, DiAnn!
    My last story I had two change the beginning twice and get rid of 3 full pages.
    Switching passages around works.
    Thanks for the tips. Always look forward to learn from you.

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