“I feel like an idiot for not having this darn story figured out. It’s like . . . I don’t even know what the story IS anymore.”
Have you ever gotten so deep in edits and plot twists and pretty words that you feel like this? Fear not, it happens to a lot of writers. In fact, those very words were uttered by one of my CP’s not three days ago.
Does that make her a bad writer? Not at all! Her prose is lyrical and elegant, her concept is intriguing, and her male MC makes me sigh. Are you a bad writer if you fall into this? Absolutely not.
Everyone gets lost now and again. One of the most common traps writers fall into is losing sight of two key things: What does your MC want, and why don’t they already have it?
Seriously. That’s it. Losing sight of that amongst all of your rewriting and editing and plotting, etc can really throw you off.
My advice to her? Simplify. Tell me what your FMC wants. Tell me what your MMC wants. Since their goals are not compatible, how are they going to get in each other’s way and foil each other on occasion? How are their goals reflected in their actions?
Remember this: Your characters’ actions should reflect and match their goals. If they don’t, there better be a dang good reason.
If you’re lost, I suggest asking yourself the following questions:
1- What does your MC want?
2- What is standing in their way?
3- What is at stake if they don’t get it?
4- Do their actions match their goals?
5- If not, is there a reason why? (Ex: Are they a self-saboteur?)
6- Do they have a plan for getting around their obstacles? Does it make sense?
7- Why should your readers care if they attain their goal or not?
Simplify. Get back to basics. If you work hard, the rest will fall into place.