In the past few years trilogies have become all the rage. Whether you write sci-fi, fantasy, horror, or some other kind of speculative fiction, you’ve probably heard that everyone wants to read trilogies these days and everyone is writing trilogies these days.
This can create problems for writers who despair of having a story in them that’s long enough to span three novels, and who also doubt their ability to sustain interest in one project for that long of a time.
This is an area many writers feel weird about, and by “many writers” I mean most of the writers I’ve encountered, myself included. We’ve all giggled over what a bad sex scene looks like, and no one wants to be the one who writes something that other writers—or readers—make fun of. But how do you write a good sex scene? And what do we even mean when we say “good” in this mostly un-talked-about area?
Some writers call it a burst of inspiration. Some writers call it “being in the zone.” It’s that magical shift that happens when your characters start speaking and acting with their own free will. That point of no return when they run off on their own wild ride and you really have no choice but to follow along.
If this is what we all want from our characters, then why does it seem like it’s so hard to get there?
One of the stickiest places for writers is when they want to move their characters from Point A to Point B in a story. Sometimes Point A and B are physical places. They might need to get their character from California to China. And sometimes A and B are two points in time, as when their character has to go from high school graduation to an end-of-the-summer scene.
These transitions can be tough for writers. Number one, because there isn’t a whole lot of emotional investment in the transition. It’s just a necessary part of moving the plot along. Number two, most writers tend to overwrite these transition scenes, trying to flesh them out when they don’t need to be fleshed.
How does a great writer get inside a character’s head? What’s the secret to peeling back the layers to reveal the emotionally textured motive beneath?
I recently struggled with this while reading a long, epic poem by Goethe. There were so many characters, and each character had so much going on, that it was hard for me to keep track of all of them. It was even more difficult to see the bigger picture of how they all fit together.