The Joy of Cracks: Finding Creativity in the Holes in the Story

Cracks  Ah, weeds. The best things in life, really.

Well, maybe not in my front walk! But in my story, you know what? I’m loving the weeds growing in those cracks.

I’ve been working for a week or so on the middle of my story. I have a solid beginning and a kick-ass path to a dynamite climax. But there’s just not quite enough in the first half of the story, from the first turn when it really gets launched to when things go sideways at the midpoint reversal. For a while I was tweaking the scenes that I had in that hole, stretching a little here, elaborating a little there, pumping up some chapter-ending turns. But it wasn’t making much difference. No matter how I moved things around, there was too much lettuce, not enough meat in that sandwich.

What I finally figured out is that I needed to take some of the little gaps between the ideas I already had and let them blossom into big, strange weeds. Add an interaction with a new, interesting character. Take the action into a whole new realm where amazing things are discovered. I’m really enjoying discovering these new facets to the story I thought I already knew so well.

The challenge, of course, is to keep it all relevant. I can’t just throw in a kooky character or a side trip to Oz unless it advances the story in some way. Even if it’s in a misleading direction toward what proves to be a dead end, it has to feel like progress toward solving the story problem, to the characters and to the reader. The iron-clad rule for each scene is this: would the story still come out the same if this scene wasn’t there? If the answer is yes, then it has to go. So I can’t just wedge in some stuff because it might be fun or because things are a little thin. Each weed I plant here has to grow runners into all the future scenes, making a difference.

Here’s a question for you writers out there: Do you have any cracks in the story you’re writing that are crying out for some weeds? And how do you encourage those tough little plants to dig in their roots and blow your story open?

3 thoughts on “The Joy of Cracks: Finding Creativity in the Holes in the Story

  1. I like the way you describe the middle part of your novel, “too much lettuce, not enough meat in that sandwich.” Although my manuscript is still a work in progress, like you, I’m okay with the way the beginning and ending is coming along; however, I would describe my middle part (in keeping with the same analogy) as, enough lettuce, but definitely not enough meat. Since it’s a memoir, hoping that more metaphors and similes will do the trick.


    • Metaphors and similes are SO much fun! Some others I considered: Too many shelves in this library are empty. I feel like I’m binge-watching reruns. I can rearrange the folders, but the files are still empty. I like this game!


  2. Pingback: MyNoWriMo Step 9: Ending | Word Wacker

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