You’re entering NaNoWriMo, or you’ve found this post because you’re hoping for some inspiration to write your novel.
Writing a Novel? Keep Writing!
In my other life as a ghostwriter, I’ve written more novels than I care to remember. At some point, with almost every novel, I found myself contemplating a way to end it all. The novel, not myself. 🙂 I managed to keep writing. You will too. Here are five tips which will help when you’ve lost your inspiration and need to find it again.
1. Send for the Cavalry.
I love the “send for the cavalry” trick. The cavalry were mounted horsemen. You don’t need a troop of them. Just introduce one other character. Anyone will do — imagine a character, and drop him in there.
Let’s say you’re writing a romance. Easy. You bring in an old flame. Writing a mystery? Drop in another prime suspect. Or give the sleuth a wife or husband who’s decamped.
Your trooper can be an unborn child, or a ghost, if you like.
2. It Must Be True. I Read It in the Newspaper.
I love mysteries which start with a newspaper story. From memory, PD James started one or two of her mysteries that way. For inspiration, read your local newspaper. If you live in an area where all the local rags have folded, look online. Does anything spark an idea? Something will; check the classified ads.
Alternatively, your main character reads something in the newspaper which makes him doubt himself, or one of the other characters.
3. Kick the MacGuffin.
A MacGuffin is a plot device: something somebody wants. Or lots of somebodies. In Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got Your Number (a very funny novel) there are two MacGuffins: one is her engagement ring, and the other is her mobile phone.
MacGuffins are wonderful, because they’re kickable. They’re real. If you’re new novelist, you may have a lot of people having conversations about nothing in particular. A MacGuffin gets them arguing, and fighting — ideally in lots of different locations.
Jenny Crusie’s novel, Tell Me Lies, begins with:
One hot August Thursday afternoon, Maddie Faraday reached under the front seat of her husband’s Cadillac and pulled out a pair of black lace bikini underpants. They weren’t hers.
A wonderful MacGuffin.
Check your novel. Got a MacGuffin? No? Excellent. Toss one in there. You’ll get inspired all over again.
4. Same Story, Different Eyes.
You’re telling your story in third person narrative point of view (POV). Your POV character is your main character.
Switch it up. Bring in another point of view. If you’re writing a mystery, give the killer’s POV for a couple of chapters, or for several scenes.
If you don’t want to switch points of view, have your main character write in a journal, or write a series of emails, or tweets.
5. Here, Doggy!
If you haven’t got a pet in your story, get one. All the best novels have a pet or two. (I’m kidding, but not really… the pet ploy works.)
You can make your pet odd, if you like. I typed “Regency novel hedgehog” into Google, and out popped the novel, Midsummer Moon. I read the novel years ago, and don’t recall the characters or plot, but I remember the hedgehog.
Similarly, I’ve read many Stephanie Plum novels, but remember nothing at all, except Rex, the hamster.
Pets are fun in novels. Not only will your readers remember your pet, the pet will inspire you too, and that’s the point.
Another benefit: your pet makes your main character sympathetic. Consider giving your evil villain a pet — it will make him even scarier.
So there you have it. Try one or several of these tips when your inspiration for your novel flags. It surely will, at some point, but you can get it back. Have fun. 🙂
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