Thursday, June 09, 2005

Run Out of Gas

I’m sure you’ve read these types of novels. They roar in the opening chapter yet somewhere in the middle portion, they go into a stall and almost a tailspin. The story engine has run out of gas. If you have this happen to your novel, the alarm bells should be ringing in your head. Danger.

Some readers will put down your book and never finish it. It’s sad to say it but it’s true. I used to be one of those “gotta-clean-your-plate” readers. You know these types of readers. They are the one who have to keep reading the pages (even if it’s boring) until they reach the final page.

In recent years, I’ve changed. I don’t mind leaving a little food on my plate and feel no compulsion to finish the novel. If the writer hasn’t pulled me through their fiction or nonfiction or book proposal until the final page (and I have no other compelling reason to finish such as an assigned article or book review), then I will often put it down and go on to another book. Life is too short not to respond in this fashion. There are way too many books getting into print. Our challenge as readers is to find the good ones. It’s the same challenge for every acquisitions editor and literary agent.

If your novel or work-in-progress has gone into stall, how do you get your story engine running again? I recommend you check out what Jim Bell advises in this article. It may be just the fix you need to keep from running out of gas.

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