Have you ever written the ultimate scene so exciting that you found yourself on the edge of your seat until the story’s climax? Only now has your cardiac and respiratory functions begun to return to normal?
It doesn’t matter the genre or sub-genre you write in; whether a battle on the dying world of Kroth or a horse race where the underdog wins by a nose or maybe a heroine is rescued in the nick… no, in half the nick of time.
Or perhaps the garden gnomes smash the heads of all the cute and cuddly bunnies as the precious little cottontails methodically destroy each plant in turn. You may find this murderous rampage a bit over the top, but consider the family’s hard work as they toiled in their garden to provide food for the upcoming year. Now, because of the selfish cute and cuddly bunnies, mommy, daddy and all six children have nothing but dirt to eat. They’re separated and placed in foster homes around the world. Due to a strange turn of events, they are united 12.7 years later. They form a national chain of restaurants that serve cute and cuddly fricasseed bunny rabbit exclusively. The youngest girl shunned the cute and cuddly bunny rabbit restaurant business and became a mercenary. Her specialty: tracking poison dart frogs in South America and under the cover of darkness assassinating them with poison darts.
Once the excitement of that perfectly penned sequence is over; your heart is no longer pounding; and your respiration is at an acceptable level, you pick up where you left off. It was at this point that I learned a very valuable lesson. I learned this lesson because I did something really stupid. Through three-quarters of the book the pace was good, it kept your attention, it flowed well, had plenty of excitement and then it happened…that sudden attack of stupid. The group of people I had just plunged into the muck and mire, through page after page of life-threatening situations, barely escaping by the skin of a scraped frog’s fang, emerged hardly unscathed, unbeaten and yes, victorious.
Then, I take these soldiers (male and female), chosen by God, while the reader is chomping at the bit for more action; the masses chanting (in my mind), “What next? What next? What next?
What next?” and I answer that question by taking these champions and placing them back on their safe ship (here’s where it gets really embarrassing) and have them talk over plans and make sandwiches.
Now, here’s where it gets really, really, unbelievably embarrassing. As ashamed as I am to share the details, I feel as though I must to prevent a travesty such as this from ever happening again.
These brave warriors talked and ate the aforementioned sandwiches for nearly 40 pages, and the sad part was that I didn’t realize what I was doing until it was, too, late. In all actuality, it was past, too, late. It had to be brought to my attention…Oh, if I could only flog myself.
My editor came close to having me committed, but settled for a complete psychiatric examination before allowing me to write another word.
Don’t let this become you. Oh, I know you’ve made mistakes, glommed up plots, destroyed story lines and shredded entire manuscripts just to achieve what physically equates to killing a character in the writing world.
I implore you to keep your characters in the moment. Don’t let that burly man slip away and slide into a pair of pantyhose. Crack the whip from the first word until the last.
And most importantly never forget that friends don’t let friends write stupid.