Monday, January 25, 2010

Story Divorce Ten

Ten Things that Indicate You and Your Story Should Part Ways

Backstory Shortages: A description of all your characters' backstories can fit comfortably on a Post-It note, and you're okay with that.

Character Massacre: By page fifty you find yourself killing off the entire cast, and you're not writing a zombie novel.

Crit Partner Pass: You refuse to show any pages of your story to your crit partner, unless you really hate him/her, in which case you dump all the pages on them.

Flame Fodder: when your spouse needs some kindling in order to start a fire on a cold night, you hand him the first three chapters you just polished.

Involvement Deficit: While editing your story, you fall asleep. Serious: While writing your story, you fall asleep. Terminal: While you're writing your story, your spouse interrupts to nervously ask where you put your living will.

Lifter Turnoff: While you're talking about it at your monthly chapter luncheon, the writer who perpetually eavesdrops on your conversations and writes stories that are always remarkably similar to your own abruptly changes tables.

Pitch Confession: Before you tell your editor about the story, you first apologize for the premise, the setting, the characters, the main conflict and the writing.

Slipshod Synopsis: The first draft of your synopsis for the story reads something like this: Joe meets Janet. They talk. Stuff happens. Janet needs to pick up some OJ from the market. So do I. And remind Tom about fixing the sink. Pay electric bill. Call Susan about the car pool. Did Jill finish her Algebra homework??? Um, then more stuff happens. The end.

Title Apathy: You've titled your story "This Stupid @#$!* Thing" and you're not in a real hurry to change it.

Unhappily Ever After: By the time you finish your story, all the characters in it are dead, or zombies. Or dead zombies.


  1. So how many of these need to be true before I send it to the story-grave?

    I'm guilty of the Crit Partner Pass... hopefully once I get a crit partner who actually reads romance, that won't be true. But if it is, am I doomed? :-)

    Love this post.

  2. Oh, the Slipshod Synopsis! Definitely, lol.

  3. "Title Apathy: You've titled your story "This Stupid @#$!* Thing" and you're not in a real hurry to change it."

    Um... PBW, but then I'd have divorced probably almost 40, (or more) books that I've published.

    At some point, I've called almost every fricking story that.... repeatedly.

  4. Anonymous4:39 AM

    I really needed that giggle this morning! I'll be printing this out and hang it up over my writing desk.

  5. I'm in the falling asleep boat, but I think the answer is vitamins and more space between projects.

  6. Oh yes, the bloody backstory...

  7. I could probably close my eyes and just point to one for my current WIP.

    No, I shouldn't say that. It's not that bad. And I really do like my characters. There are just other things going on in my life that have caused me to shut down to the point where I'm doing nothing at all. I'm trying to get back into life. It just takes time.


  8. Oooh, I've done the Backstory Shortages and Crit Partner Pass. But that's because the story hasn't been REVISED yet, so I'm just kind of scared...

  9. Printing this baby out, LOL -- love your lists Lynn!

  10. Thanks for the laugh! I needed that this morning. Also, I think I needed the reminder that I'm working on my CURRENT project instead of some of my PAST projects for a very good reason...

  11. That's funny. My first serious undertaking of a story really did almost put me to sleep... I shortly there-after scrapped said story and haven't regretted it since.

  12. I wish there were a litmus test. . . I think I'm growing b/c instead of dumping the half-written ms, I look at it for real, and figure out, OH HEY! No antagonist! No wonder I'm stuck. Or, Oh HEY! No story, just been coasting on premise! Or, . . . you get the idea. Now to be a grown up writer and FIX IT. :D

  13. Class. All class.

    So, does Unhappily Ever After count if you're writing Lovecraftian-style?

    Or does it count a fail if all your characters end up alive, happy, and sane?

  14. Wait. What's wrong with that synopisis?
    I'm totally guilty of wanting to kill all my characters.

  15. Involvement Deficit. That's me! I always thought it was because chasing the kids out of my office all day long.

  16. I love the slipshod synopsis!

    May I never write one...


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