Monthly Archives: November 2010

The End

About ten days ago, I found myself in the same predicament from last year. I hit the 50k for NaNoWriMo, but my novel was not yet finished, and I lacked what I needed to continue. I didn’t lack motivation, I lacked a proper end.

I had a very similar problem with my last novel, as well. I dance around the final confrontation. I flirt with it. I dangle it there, just to have my character shy away for one last bit of dialogue to fill in plot holes. Then I stop, frozen, not sure how to write the ending.

It took me a few days of writing silence to figure out why I couldn’t write an ending for my novel. Why would my MC charge off to kill someone he owed his life to for the sake of two people he just met? Why wouldn’t he just wave goodbye and be on his merry way?

I should have answered those questions in the middle, but I didn’t. I was missing numerous scenes from the middle that would show my MC’s conflict with himself. They would show him changing from wanting to run from everything, to wanting to save everything.

In other words: I built the tension, I increased the stakes, but I did not invest in emotion. Read the rest of this entry


This is going to be my first non-writing-related posts in a while. It is also going to be my most personal post ever. Just a warning.

October 2, 2006. Charles Carl Robers IV took ten girls hostage at the West Nickle Mines School in the Old Order Amish community of Nickle Mines. Roberts shot each of those ten girls, all ages 6-13. Five of those ten girls died. Roberts then killed himself.

Imagine being the parent of one of the five girls that died. If you’re like most people, you would probably hate Roberts for what he did. You would be glad he killed himself, and hope he burns in Hell for eternity (or something similar).

The shooting garnered national acclaim in the US, not solely because of the tragic nature of the event, but because of the Amish response. After losing 5 young, innocent girls to the unprovoked and unwarranted attack, the Amish forgave him.

Instead of focusing on hate, bitterness, and redemption, the Amish chose to support one another. They aided those whose daughters died, and others whose daughters were injured. They aided the family of Charles Carl Robers IV that lost a son, a father, and a husband.

Everyone has heard of the phrase “forgive and forget.” Could you forget a man who shot your 10-year-old daughter for no reason? Could you forgive the woman who abandoned her newborn baby in the park? Could you forgive the countless people who abuse animals, starve them, beat them, and train them to fight?

I don’t know if I could. In time, I’m sure I could, at least on the surface. Yet if I were to meet the murderer of my child in the afterlife, I might not be able to restrain myself from punching him in the face. Read the rest of this entry

The Power of Choice

Today is November 15th, which makes it the official half-way point in NaNoWriMo. Assuming your novel will finish in 50k words, you are now at the exact center of your novel, which means: Mini-climax time!

Also known as the second disaster, the mini-climax is your hero’s biggest mistake yet. This is where you raise tensions and raise the stakes. As I said in my post on Planning Disasters, it’s good to have the mini-climax be something your MC caused. The best way to do that is to give him a difficult choice where either decision can bring something good at a cost, then have his decision go horribly wrong. Read the rest of this entry

Journey Through the Middle

At this point in the month, you should be making headway through the middle of your novel. That is, if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo and are at least close to the word count goal for the day. The middle is a scary place, and there is a good chance you’re wondering what to do next.

As soon as you feel yourself losing direction, stop writing and diagram your main character’s motivation, goal, and conflict. I used Freemind to mind map this step, but you can use whatever you’re most comfortable with. If you’re uncertain about any of these, read my post on Story Goal, Questions and Ambitions.


Middle Mind Map

Mind map of Rephaim's middle. Made in Freemind.

Your hero has a motivation, which will drive the plot. There will be at least one major conflict that interferes with this motivation. The middle is where the hero sees that conflict. His goal will be to defeat that conflict and achieve his motivation. (Your Mini Climax is a terrific place for your hero to realize that conflict and solidify his goal.) Read the rest of this entry