So yesterday, still stumped with my plot, I decided to adapt a technique a friend of mine used a few years ago to decide between which story to tell next. She gave her characters time to say why their story should be told and chose the most persuasive one. Now I don't have that problem, but I figured maybe I should have Henri and Madeleine tell me about their story - so I started with Madeleine. So far it's going ok. Hopefully it will help me focus on what's working and what isn't.
Have you ever read a book and skipped most of a chapter because the author annoyed you with one particular detail? I did this on the weekend, after picking up a women's fiction historical (kinda a saga, but not really, as it only covers 10 years) at a fund-raising sale for the local orchestra. It was going along pretty well, then the author chose a really (IMHO) stupid way to break up the heroine and her great love. The Big Misunderstanding. This annoyed the hell out of me and I ALMOST gave up on the book completely. BUT, I really wanted to see how the story developed otherwise, so I just skipped the really annoying section and continued on. And finished reading it last night. Overall it was a very compelling story, even though aspects of it did rather strain credulity - the number of coincidences were pretty high.
In the end I asked myself WHY I finished - what was it about the story that kept me going. Especially as the heroine was one of those beautiful women who doesn't know it, who everyone loves and all the men fall for, who makes good in a spectacular manner. You know what kept me reading? Her goal. She had a really, really strong goal and I wanted to see a) if she actually achieved it and b) how she went about getting to that point.
So, there we are - hook a reader with a compelling enough goal and the reader will keep going, even if other aspects of your tale aren't so good. (Please note - the book is not either of those listed below.)
What lessons have you learned from reading other people's work?
Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett
Also Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Link of the Day: Prep that Book! by Gaelen Foley
BONUS LINK OF THE DAY: Great advice from Agent Kristin Nelson