How to Write a Novel: Part 5

  You are finally doing it. The ideas are starting to take shape and it’s looking like something more than just a concept. Your characters are coming alive and the scenes are being vividly set. So now…what the heck do I do with it?

You are at the crossroads my friends. It’s a scary place that forces you—the author—to decide if this is what you want to do or are you better off going some other way. Would you like to know what keeps most stories from being told?


That’s right. Indecision will kill a story quicker than anything else. Why? Because as the story goes along, you, as a writer, discover that the characters will often want to go places you hadn’t anticipated. You’ve taken the time to develop the people who make the book what it is to this point and discover, as I often do, that if the character is believable, they will think differently than you will and because of that, they will want to go somewhere you had not anticipated. That alone will bring the story to a halt.

The question is…what the heck do I do about it?

As I see it, there are three most likely answers. First: You do nothing. That’s right. If you are like most people just getting into writing, you’ll stop everything and do nothing because you don’t believe the outline you originally created will work with the characters you’ve created and you can’t fathom the idea that the characters will take you where you think they should go, so you sit back and wait to figure out how to bridge the gap. You wait to see if you will get an idea how to make it work. You wait. And as you wait…you are doing nothing. And if you are doing nothing, you are no longer a writer. And that my friend, is why most people never finish their novels.

The second thing you can do is force the story. You make up your mind that these characters will just have to suck it up and do what you tell them to do. You can see where I’m heading can’t you? It’s like putting gasoline in a diesel engine. It just doesn’t work. It’s a good engine. The diesel fuel can even be the best money can buy, but it won’t work. Everything has to fit.

Finally, and certainly the most difficult, is that you—the author—must learn to adapt. Writing is more than just the words you put on paper. Writing is about the emotions of the people you put into those situations and find a way to help them endure and succeed no matter the difficulties they face. Allow yourself to adapt to the needs of the scene. Fight alongside your protagonist rather than pushing him or her where they can’t function. And by doing that, your story will go far beyond what you had originally planned. It will be better than you could have imagined.

Some people call it writer’s block. I say its character block. If you let the characters go where they need to go, you will never suffer from knowing what to do. Your only decisions will be to discover the best way to save the day.


Writing is a way to share a piece of our lives. See what happens in mine with Castle Grey – A Katt and Mouse Mystery. Click here (Kindle) or here (Paperback). You’ll be glad you did.

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