Inspiration Station: Middle

IS Middle

How do you get from point A to point B in your novel?

The middle of a novel can often sag if there isn’t enough information or enough tension to hold the reader’s attention.

“Well,” the reader says as he closes the book and puts it high on the shelf, “the beginning was good, but then it all kind of went downhill from there.”

Do you want your readers to be saying that about your book? No, you want them to finish the book. Beginnings carry the book for only so long. Then it’s up to the middle scenes to take the reader to the very end.

Let’s look at it this way: pretend your book is the reader’s soulmate. They’re in a relationship together. No matter how long they’ve been together, they should always learn new things about one another, right?

You have to keep the relationship fresh. You have to keep the love alive.

There are many ways to do this. After the honeymoon phase–the beginning–is over, the reader wants the book to spice things up a bit.

Learn something new about the protagonist.

No, I don’t mean reveal that the main character has “crystal blue eyes” because one, that’s cliche. Two, who cares at this point? If his eye color had any significance whatsoever we probably should have discovered that long ago.

Reveal a new flaw.

Reveal a new motive for why he does what he does; good or bad.

Reveal a new side to his personality; as long as he can still remain in character.

Keep the plot moving.

Let the protagonist discover something new about the antagonist; whether it’s a flaw, something good, or their motive.

But seriously, don’t let the antagonist monologue and reveal their plans. Because… Been there, done that.

Introduce a new character.

Here’s the catch on that one: does this new character have an significance to the book? Will this character help the protagonist in any way? Will they come back later and somehow save the day?

If the answer is no to all of those questions… Dump the new character.

Keep the tension high.

Let the protagonist get lost on his journey.

Let the protagonist get captured.

Let the protagonist’s team members or friend get captured.

Have a character get hurt.

Have a character get killed.

Maybe the bad guy misled the main characters and now they’re in trouble, confused, and have to fix it before they continue their quest.

You want your reader to not have enough willpower to put the book down. You want your reader to try to restrain himself from flipping to the end just to see what happens.

There are plenty of other ways to keep the middle from sagging, but those are just a few ways. I’m sure you guys have your own methods on how to keep the middle enticing and exciting to the reader.

If you thought this post was helpful, be sure to check out my post all about BeginningsEndings, and Prologues/Epilogues!

Advertisements

Inspiration Station: Beginning

IS Beginning

Your novel has to go through a certain test before a reader buys the book. The summary on the back cover isn’t enough anymore.

After getting past the cover and title (because let’s face it; we all judge books by their covers when we know we shouldn’t), readers thumb through the pages. Some people read the first couple of lines.

Without even realizing it, they’re checking for the writing style and the type of characters they’ll have to deal with. Is there an info-dump at the beginning? Is the information too vague?

Beginnings are fragile and if you don’t get it just right, it might be what stops a reader from buying your book.

When beginning your novel…

Give us an idea about the plot. Some beginnings can be slow and the plot takes some time to warm up–which is fine–but you don’t readers to be on chapter three and still have no idea what the point of the novel is.

Make sure you introduce a likable protagonist. Give us some background on him or her, but not too much. You can’t give away everything before the novel truly gets started.

Speaking of characters, introduce secondary ones gradually. Let us wonder why those characters are there, why they’re significant in the book.

Sometimes all it takes is one line.

The first line of a novel is the beginning before the beginning. All it takes is that one first sentence to hook the reader in and they continue on.

There are many different kinds of first sentences to help give your beginning a bit of a boost in the right direction.

Dialogue

“What are you doing?” Andrew asked his sister holding open the door, his eyes wide in horror at the sight.

The reader wants to read on because they want to know what Andrew saw. Why did it shock him so much? Also, they wonder what his sister is like if she’s causing her brother to react in such a way. Is this something she does often? So many possibilities open up.

Action

Kyle’s car side-swiped a fence with a piercing screech. It slowed him down, but he was able get going once more as he pushed harder on the gas pedal. He glanced in his rear-view mirror with worried eyes, sweat glistening on his forehead. They were gaining on him.

Start off with conflict right away. We don’t know why Kyle is running, why he’s being chased, or who is chasing him. It’s one of those things that we just have to absolutely know the answer, so we naturally keep reading.

Introduction

He looked as though he was in his mid-twenties. He brushed his sleek black hair out of his face revealing his dark green eyes. Then he bent down and lifted the crate, his arm muscles pulsing from the weight.

Introduce a character. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the main character. From this narration we can assume the protagonist may be admiring the man from afar. The readers want to know more about the man and the narrator. Also, why is the narrator watching the man lift crates? It can’t be that interesting, can it? Then again, his muscles were flexing…

And that’s why beginnings are important.

There are so many other ways to start a story, of course.

Make your reader crave more with each sentence, paragraph, chapter. Before they know it, it’ll be 2 in the morning. They’ll close the book and say, “I want more!”

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, check out my post about MiddlesEndings, and Prologues/Epilogues!

July Wrap-Up

July is coming to a close, so here’s an update on my July Goals.

Reading:

My goal was to read two books a week totaling to eight books this month. I ended up reading more books than that. I have to say I really love having no work.

I ended up reading ten books, two more than I planned. If you want to see the complete list of books I read during July, head on over to my Reading List. I just updated it and it has a link to all the book reviews from July (and the whole year).

Writing:

I queried my children’s book, Nature According to Bobby, to five more agents. Some of the turnaround times are kind of long, so we’ll have to wait and see for that.

I also submitted a poem to the magazine Ladybug. The wait time for that is three to six months.

I wrote Hunter for Camp NaNoWriMo and hit 50k on July 19. I didn’t finish the story, but I think it’s almost done. It might have another two or three chapters? I’m not entirely sure. I wanted to finish the overall novel, but I got distracted with George Florence so Hunter is kind of the back burner for now.

The rewrite of George Florence is still in the works. I took a good break from it because I was writing Hunter. My plan was to write both at the same time, but I think that was a little overambitious.

I had hoped to finish rewriting George Florence by the end of July, but there’s still a lot I need to do. The rewrite is turning out much, much longer than the original first draft. A lot of new additions (good additions, in my opinion) got added when I switched POVs.

Blogging:

I posted a book review every Tuesday and Saturday like I hoped to. I ended up reading two more books than planned, as well.

I also started the Time To Write feature every Friday. I hope you guys enjoy that.

July was a pretty good month for me. I think I got a lot done. Here’s hoping August is just as productive.

 

 

Excerpt: Hunter

There are about five days left of Camp NaNoWriMo. I have hit 50k in my novel Hunter, but the story is far from being over.

I wanted to post an excerpt to you guys since you’re the one who voted for me to write Hunter for Camp in the first place.

I ended up deciding to post the whole Prologue. I think it’s a pretty decent teaser of how the story is going to unfold.

The prologue is when the protagonist, Cat, is just a baby so she’s not even in it. But you do get a good sense of her parents (and their relationship); especially her father, who is a huge character throughout the novel.

I haven’t worked out the timeline just yet. Cat is 16 in the first chapter, so you can imagine that the prologue is 16 years earlier… whatever year that may be.

Here is the summary of the novel in case of you don’t remember:

Cat Webber is the daughter of big-shot Cedric Webber, founder and owner of X-Terminate; a company that rids mutants off the streets to keep humans safe. Raised as a Hunter, Cat believes all mutants are bad simply because they’re different from humans. However, her morals are questioned when she gets to know some mutants; especially Brandon Hurst.

Brandon Hurst is a mutant who can teleport and bend time. He knows some secrets about X-Terminate and Cedric that Cat doesn’t know. Cat is curious to find out what Brandon may or may not know. It’s not until she discovers her father is killing off the mutants that Cat struggles with her choices: taking her father’s orders or standing up for what she believes is right.

Please keep in mind that the prologue was proof-read for typos and minor errors to be posted on here, but it isn’t edited. This is first draft material.

Enjoy.

            The house was quiet except for the rush of water pouring from the kitchen’s sink faucet. Steam rose from the bottom as the hot water slapped against the dirty dishes. The scent of dish soap wafted in the air as Christina Webber squirted a small dab of liquid soap onto a sponge. She wiped her forehead with her arm, careful not to let the rubber glove scrap against her face. The young woman scrubbed a dinner plate with all her might, sighing as she put it on the drying rack next to the sink. She looked to her left at the digital clock on the microwave.

9:10 PM. He was late again.

Christina grunted in frustration. She was getting tired of her husband always missing dinner. She picked up a baby bottle in the sink and scrubbed that clean. She stared at it before putting it on the drying rack. Her husband was not only missing dinner with his family, but he was missing out on being with their daughter.

It wasn’t until Christina finished washing the dishes that she heard the front door open in the other room. She took off her rubber gloves and placed them in the cabinet under the sink. Her husband would be getting no warm welcome from her.

A tall, stocky man entered the kitchen. He stood in the doorway watching his wife as she folded a dishtowel and placed it inside a drawer. She shifted her eyes trying to see her husband without actually looking at him, but she couldn’t see out of the back of her head. Christina finally gave in and turned around. She leaned against the counter staring at her husband leaning against the door frame.

“Cedric,” she said; it was the best greeting she could come up with.

“Good evening, Christina.” Her husband smiled. He walked towards her with his arms open wide readying for an embrace.

Christina turned her head and walked over to the stove. Cedric stood by the sink with his arms still stretched out for a moment. He frowned, slowly lowering his arms down by his sides.

“Okay… what did I do now?” he asked.

“How was work?” Christina replied wiping down the top of the stove.

“Busy,” Cedric teetered his head to the side as if he was trying to remember what happened that day. He walked across the tiled floor and sat down at the circular kitchen table. He folded his hands together resting them on the surface and watched Christina clean. “How was your day?”

“Fine,” Christina continued to give him the cold shoulder.

Cedric sighed. He scratched the top of his head wondering what to say.

“I know you’re annoyed with me, so just come out and say it.” He said through gritted teeth. He tried not to be angry with Christina, but he couldn’t stand it when she didn’t talk to him like that.

Christina paused in her cleaning and turned around. She leaned back against the stove glaring at her husband.

“What caused you to miss dinner again? I thought you were supposed to be home by six. I had a chicken cooked and ready to eat at six o’clock for you. I waited until 7:30 before I decided to eat without you.” Christina explained.

“I’m sorry. I should have called.” Cedric stood up from his chair and walked over to his wife, his arms stretched out again.

“Should have doesn’t cut it.” Christina glared at him. She walked away before Cedric could pull her into an apologetic hug.

Cedric took a deep, calming breath trying not to lose his temper. He knew Christina had a right to be angry with him; he just didn’t like it.

“I’ll call next time.” He stated.

Next time?” Christina turned around, her narrowed eyes burning into him. “There shouldn’t be a next time! Cedric, you leave for work at six in the morning. Why is it that you need to work over 12-hour shifts? You should be home by three in the afternoon when you leave so early.”

“Do you really think it’s that easy to run a company?” Cedric glared at her, his temper slowly getting the better of him.

“Just because you’re the owner doesn’t mean that you need to be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What about James? He can handle the company while you’re not there.” Christina countered.

“James is busy with other things I give him to work on. I can’t ask him to do everything.” Cedric shrugged his shoulders. “I’m the one in the charge. I have to do the big-boy work. Sometimes it takes all day.”

“Just sometimes? You have a life outside of work, you know. Or did you forget that?” Christina snapped.

Cedric swallowed a lump in his throat. He rubbed the back of his neck, turning around to leave the room. Christina shook her head in disgust knowing that he was running away from their fight.

“How old is Catherine going to be tomorrow?” she called right as he made it to the doorway.

Cedric stopped and looked at her. “Six months. Do you honestly think I don’t know how old my own daughter is?”

“Seven.” Christina corrected, her voice getting caught in her throat. “You’re daughter will be seven months tomorrow.”

“Right,” Cedric cleared his throat, “Seven. That’s what I meant.”

“Where have you been?” Christina whispered through teary eyes. She wiped her face and sniffed before any tears could make it down her cheeks. “You’re missing everything.”

“You and Catherine both will be thanking me 20 years from now. She’ll be  able to go to a good college because we can afford it.” Cedric narrowed his eyes.

“She’s seven months. Do we really need to think about affording college at the moment?” Christina asked softly.

Cedric grunted. He turned away exiting the kitchen. Christina closed her eyes, squeezing a tear out. She took a deep breath trying to compose herself when Cedric walked back into the room with an envelope in his hand. Christina opened her eyes as Cedric waved the envelope in the air.

“I noticed this on the coffee table when I walked through the front door.” Cedric stated.

Christina glared at him. “And you read it?”

“It was opened.”

“I don’t care. It’s a letter addressed to me.”

“Then don’t leave it out in the open next time.” Cedric shrugged.

“Why not? Is this not my house? I can’t leave my things anywhere I want?” Christina glowered at her husband. She wanted to raised her voice, but knew that would only make things worse.

“Why is Robert Acton writing to you?” Cedric demanded.

Christina narrowed her eyes trying to figure out what Cedric was getting at. “I used to work with him before I had Catherine. He writes me every so often asking how we and the baby are doing.” She answered quietly, cautiously. She didn’t know how Cedric was going to react; not knowing what was going through his head.

“You shouldn’t be talking to him. In fact, he shouldn’t even have a job!” Cedric hissed slapping the envelope down on the kitchen table.

Christina raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t want you talking to him anymore.” Cedric placed his hands on hips looking all around to room, avoiding his wife’s gaze.

“I’ll talk to whoever I want.” Christina countered standing straighter.

“You shouldn’t be associated with him in any way, shape, or form.” Cedric glared at her. Christina took a step back knowing this look on his face all too well, but she managed to stand her ground.

“He’s an old co-worker. He’s a friend.” Christina stated as calmly as she could, but her voice shook in the slightest.

“He’s a mutant!” Cedric raised his voice.

“He’s a human being.” Christina retorted. “So he may be a bit different from us, but he’s a person nonetheless.”

“Damn it, Christina!” Cedric shouted slamming his fist on the kitchen table.

Christina watched unblinking as her husband threw a temper tantrum. She didn’t respond, not wanting to feed into her anger anymore than she already did.

A faint cry came through the baby monitor sitting on the counter. Christina closed her eyes, groaning. She glared at Cedric shaking her head.

“You woke the baby.”

“You can go soothe her.” Cedric grunted. He sat at the table with his head buried in his hands. “You’re her mother and I’m apparently not a good father for trying to make money to provide for my family!”

The baby cried louder as he shouted again. Christina rolled her eyes at his dramatic speech. She walked across the kitchen floor to leave the room.

“Then while I’m soothing our child, you can get some extra blankets and pillows out of the storage closet.” She ordered as she left the room. “You’re sleeping on the couch tonight.”

Cedric glared at his wife’s back, but didn’t respond knowing her comment meant the argument was over. He picked up the envelope and took the letter out. His eyes glazed over the words re-reading Robert’s friendly conversation with his wife. He growled through gritted teeth before making it to the end of the letter. He tore the paper in half a few times until it was shredded into small pieces.

Memory Man by David Baldacci


Title: Memory Man
Author: David Baldacci
Genre: Mystery
How I got the book: Borrowed from my mom’s bookshelf

Summary (from Amazon):

Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice.
The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.
The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare–his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.
His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.
But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

This novel was interesting until the very end.

It follows Amos Decker, a man who can’t forget anything due to a brain trauma that caused him to have an exceptional memory. Decker used to be a cop and then detective before his family–his brother, wife, and child–were murdered.

The killer was never caught until one day, years later, someone confesses. At that time a shooting occurs at the local high school killing several students as well as a couple teachers.

Decker is brought onto the case as a consultant as they realize both the shooting and the death of his family are connected.

The novel follows Decker as he tries to follow the killer’s clues, which are directed at him. The case is a lot more personal than anyone ever thought.

Overall, this was a great mystery to read. It was heavy, but all questions were answered by the end, the characters were well developed throughout the book, and the plot was complex enough that it wasn’t predictable but you were able to slowly figure it out along with the characters. Which, in my opinion, are the best types of mysteries.

Memory Man by David Baldacci gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Damaged minds, even turned exceptional in some ways, are capable of many things. Some good, some bad.” –David Baldacci, Memory Man

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’ll be reading next!

Update: Hunter

Week one of Camp NaNo has come and gone.

I’ve been writing Hunter, book one of The Hunt trilogy. I’m 24,277 words in; nearly halfway there to the finish line.

The novel started off great and then slowly turned into… Well, a first draft. I’m getting down the ideas of the plot, but it’s going to need a lot of editing, as it should.

I’m using the sticky note app on my computer to keep track of editing notes for myself as I write. The editing notes are getting pretty long, but I guess that’s a good thing. It will definitely help me out in the long run.

My only concern is that I’m not sure if there’s going to be enough information for a trilogy. I have ideas and a plot for each book in the trilogy, but I don’t know if they’ll be long enough to stand as their own novel.

I was thinking I might make one novel titled The Hunt and break it into three parts; each being the three “novels” of the “trilogy.” Then again, that’s something to figure out way later once I have it all written. It was just a thought that popped in my head, though.

The main character, Cat, has been developing not as smoothly as I would like. She grew up hating mutants because that was how she was raised to think. She hunts them down for a living. Throughout the novel, she’s supposed to realize that mutants are people to and not all of them are bad.

Well, she’s coming to that realization, but it kind of happened overnight. So that needs to be fixed a bit.

Plus, I need to do math. One of the mutants can go back in time and I need to figure out everyone’s ages and the years and such.

I don’t like math. I like English.

That will certainly be interesting trying to figure out when all is said and done. In the meantime, I’ve been putting all the ages and years in bold to remind myself to check it later.

Nobody has time for math.

If you’re participating in Camp, I hope it’s going well for you! If you’re not, I hope you’re writing is treating you well all the same. If you’re not writing anything… Well, happy Thursday to you!

Update On George

Back in May I posted Problems with Protagonists. I voiced my concerns about dealing with a protagonist who just doesn’t seem to want to listen to anything I have to say.

The protagonist I’m talking about is George from my George Florence series. I mean, the series is named after him… the least he could do is cooperate, am I right?

With a little help from my writers group, I came to the conclusion that the way I was writing the novel was just not working out. I was thinking of changing it for a while, but when other people noticed the same thing I was, I realized it was time for a change.

Considering I wrote a post about my problems and so many of you gave me advice, I figured I owed it to you guys to give you an update.

I’ve been spending on the month of June rewriting–not editing, rewriting–George Florence, book one. I decided to put books two and three aside so I can focus on the first book.

When I say rewrite, I mean that I changed the POV from third person-George to third person-Lilah. I always visioned the two of them to be equal protagonists. George, the main male and Lilah, the main female. Except Lilah was pushy and started taking over. George was a pushover so he allowed her to do this.

Well, Lilah finally has the spotlight and I have to say that I’m glad I listened to my characters. Here are some reasons as to why the novel is coming out better than the first time around:

1. The novel is flowing more freely, yet slower at the same time. George Florence is a mystery and they were finding clues and evidence way too fast not giving the readers time to think about it. Since Lilah isn’t a detective she needs to stop and really think about the cases. She has to ask George if there’s anything she doesn’t understand. This gives the readers a chance to really think as well.

2. George acts more like a detective. He’s just getting back on his feet after being let go from the police department and he’s having financial woes. He’s bound to be a bit shaky on his feet. However, he’s toughened up a bit and I think that’s mostly because he’s trying to help Lilah along. He feels as though he’s responsible for her.

3. I have a better understanding of the cases George and Lilah are trying to solve. I keep a lot of notes and outlines with witnesses, statements, clues, the works. But I never understood what they meant. I just went along with it because it seemed to make sense. Now that George and Lilah are working through it day by day and George seems to have a lot more knowledge than he did before, I’m doing a lot more outside research. That was always something I was saving for the edits, but now I’ve realized that was dumb of me. Now I know what I’m talking about (sort of)!

Sure, the novel still has its problems just like every other first draft. But as first drafts go, I think this one is pretty good. It’s going much better than the other first draft (and that was the best first draft I’ve ever written!) so I think I’m making some real progress on this novel.

There will be more updates as I go along. I hope to finish the first draft by the end of June and edit it during August… along with writing for Camp NaNo. That will be fun!

Inspiration Station: The Perfect Crime

The Perfect Crime

What is a perfect crime?

A perfect crime is a crime that is so carefully planned and executed that it is nearly impossible to solve. With that being said, perfect crimes don’t really exist. It may take a few years to solve a crime, but as far as I know, about 9.9 times out of 10, the crimes are solved.

 

Can you create a perfect crime in a fictional mystery novel?

As a mystery writer you can certainly leave the readers begging for answers; they’re minds continuously trying to solve the crime long after the book is over.

But, unless you plan on a few sequels, that would be mean.

Sure, you want your readers begging for more. You also want them to be satisfied as well. Readers are a tough crowd, I know.

What elements should you have in a mystery novel?

There are a few key elements needed to make for a good mystery. You can’t really have one without the other, either. All the elements need to work together in order to make the crime work.

A Crime

This is an obvious one. Mysteries stem from suspense and most do that through a crime; whether it’s a murder, a robbery, a kidnapping, etc.

The characters need to be asking questions in order to give the readers a sense that something is wrong. There is a problem, there is a puzzle that needs to be solved, nothing (or not everything) is being explained, someone is keeping a secret.

Clues

In order to help solve the mystery, you need to lay out clues for the readers and the characters. Clues can range from objects, such as a weapon, or people, such as witnesses.

The objects are also known as evidence. Anything that can be put in a bag, analyzed, and dusted for fingerprints, it’s evidence.

Of course, statements from witnesses, victims, and suspects are also evidence to see whose story matches and whose doesn’t.

Law Enforcement Figures

Every crime novel needs a few characters in the law enforcement field whether they’re a police officer, detective, lawyer, judge, etc.

The law enforcement needs to be involved in order to solve the crime, discover the clues, and make accusations.

Dead-Ends

Will the law enforcement team make correct accusations all the time? Probably not.

Every once in a while a clue will be picked up that will lead the investigators down the wrong path. When that time comes, a new clue will pop up steering them in the right direction once more. Or, they’ll have to start back from the beginning.

How can you keep track of each crime?

It’s a lot of note-taking, but as long as you–as the writer–stays organized and keeps notes, your readers will be able to follow easily.

Keep a list of clues, know the problem and conclusion ahead of time, and give each witness and suspect careful statements.

With all this being said, mysteries aren’t too bad to write. In the end, everything falls into place. It’s just a lot of thinking involved. Make your readers think, make them proud when they finally get to the end of the book and realized they solved the crime before the protagonist did.

Writing Prompt:

A detective is called to the scene of a bank robbery. The culprit got away with $100,000. There are no signs of a break-in and there’s some blood on the lobby floor. An elderly couple living across the street are the only two witnesses. What happened?

Related Articles:

6 Secrets to Creating and Sustaining Suspense
Elements of the Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, and/or Crime Fiction Genres
25 Things You Need to Know About Writing Mysteries

Change of Plans

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

About a week ago, I posted my May Goals. I’ve been checking back on that post every so often as its helping me stay on task with my reading, writing, and blogging.

I reread the post the other day and realized that some plans have already changed. I know, I know… we’re not even halfway through the month yet.

Everything is pretty much the same except I decided not to type up the next draft of George Florence 2.

After meeting with my writing group a few weeks ago (which is explained further in my Problems with Protagonists post) I decided that the first book need my undivided attention and all the love it can get because I have a lot of decisions to make with that book.

1. Should I change the POV?
2. Should I make Lilah the protagonist instead of George?

Those aren’t simple changes such as deleting a scene or changing a character’s name or appearance. Changing the main character and the POV will ultimately change the entire dynamic of the novel–of the entire series.

So, I’m going to put the second book aside for the time being and focus my attention on the first book. My writers group has one more meeting before we break for the summer so I’ll spend my summer focusing on that novel. That way in September when I meet with my group again it’ll be like I’m giving them an entirely different novel.

With that said, my other writing goals for May remain the same. I’ve been writing one Short Story Sunday a day, I’ve been slowly working on critiques for my next meeting with my writers group, I’m getting my children’s book ready to be queried, Kris and I started working on a writing-related project, and I’m keeping my eyes open for magazines and contests and submit to.

20 days left in May… I hope I make it!

Problems with Protagonists

Last Saturday I had another meeting with my writing group. Two people couldn’t make it which meant that I was critiqued by four people this month.

Many of you know I’m working on a mystery series titled George Florence. It was originally called Detective Florence and decided to change it.

Everyone in my group seems to enjoy the novel really well so far. I’m happy with it and I’m happy with the feedback they’ve given me, both good and bad.

Now, before I explain my problem, I have to say that I’ve been thinking about making some changes to my novel. One, I’ve been rethinking the POV. Right now it’s in first person with George as the narrator since he’s the protagonist. The more I write this series (three books written so far) the more I wonder if it should be third person limited.

Why? I’m not entirely sure. But if I’m thinking this then somewhere in the back of my mind must have some good reason, right? It wouldn’t hurt to try, right?

Okay, now I’ll explain my problem…

No one in my writing group really likes George. They all love and adorable Lilah, who is the female protagonist, but George is the main-main character… and they think he’s a wuss.

As sad as I am to admit, I agree with them. George does not have the personality I originally intended for him to have.

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

George has been a character in my mind for years. I first thought of him while writing in a notebook at Barnes & Noble with my sister. I had about 40 or so pages written. The plot was different, the characters were different, the setting was different… the only thing that remained true over the years was George and the title. Lilah wasn’t even a sparkle in my eye at that time.

For an experienced detective, George certainly should not be acting the way he does. Lilah takes charge, she’s bossy, she knows what she’s doing–when she probably shouldn’t.

I told them I knew George needed to be flushed out more. I told them I was thinking of changing the POV. I also told them that Lilah seems to have squeezed her way through and started taking over the story without my consent.

Their advice? Screw George. Write Lilah’s story.

The group coordinator brought up a good point and told me that if Lilah is itching to be told, then she needs her own story as soon as possible. This is Lilah’s way of telling me that she needs to be the lead on a story.

We all know that its the characters who write the story, not the author, so when he said this I completely understood and agreed with him.

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

The problem is… I feel like I’m cheating on George. Of course, he would still be in the story. He would still be the detective. The plot, characters, setting, etc. would be the same. It would just be from Lilah’s point of view.

So, here are my options:

1. Keep editing and revising until George strengthens and grows against his will
2. Rewrite story in third person with George as main character… see if that makes a difference
3. Rewrite story in first person with Lilah leading the way
4. Rewrite story in third person with Lilah in the lead

Four options… doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a lot to take in.

George Florence is the fifth novel I’ve completed, but the first one I’ve ever been truly serious about. It’s hard trying to figure out what’s best for the novel.

The novel is already written has been edited before. The draft I’ve been sending my group is the second draft. I’ll probably keep sending them the next parts of this draft like nothing happened. Maybe George will seem like he improves throughout the story.

In the meantime, I will try to rewrite the first part with Lilah in charge. Depending on how well that turns out, then the novel may get a huge makeover.

It’s especially troublesome because I love George, even though he didn’t come out as planned. I feel bad kicking him to main male instead of main protagonist. But ultimately it comes down to this question: how can I expect to sell a novel with a protagonist no one likes?

What are your thoughts on this: has this ever happened to you? What do you think I should do?