Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why Your Story Stinks

Taken from "5 Reasons Your Story Stinks" so click on over and read the whole article.

If you consider these now, it may save you time later.

Clammy Characters
There’s something fishy about your story. The characters… well, they don’t seem to think, behave or talk like real human beings.

Stop and take a close look at the stars of your story:

Are they well developed?
Do they have believable motivations?
Do your characters speak using credible dialogue?
Are there so many characters your reader can’t distinguish between them?
Will people easily identify with them and their problems?
It’s irrelevant how gripping your plot is, if the characters who carry that plot aren’t real enough to speak to the reader.

Remember if you want the character worksheets or interview questions, email me and I'll get them out to you in a day or two.


  1. What an excellent article! If I think about it, some problems in my stories have been:

    * The stakes aren’t high enough - when I first put together "The Little Shepherd Boy" there was next to no conflict. A writing friend nicely pointed that out and she was totally right. I fixed that, along with some overused words that the publisher picked up, and received my first book contract.

    * My characters need more development - with fan fiction, you can create excellent stories because the character is already fleshed out for you. I don't find it that easy with my own characters--which is why I signed up for a workshop on getting to know your characters.

    * Poor pacing - In the first draft of "The Sisterhood" too much had to happen at the end and it felt rushed when an objective set of eyes read through it.

    I really like the posts you're pointing us towards. Keep up the great work!


  2. You said it Cheryl: 'raising the stakes.' Man, that's always a tough one. I never realized how much farther I could push my novel until I sat through Donald Maass's workshop at a writer's conference this past summer. Talk about a wake up call!

    I had only scratched the surface with how far both my story and my heroine could go. And in many ways, that's the difference between a novel which catches an editor or agents attention, and one who gets tossed in the slush pile.

    Great article, Jean, thanks!

    - Chrissy