People enjoy things that are awesome. That’s why there was a period of time where we deified Chuck Norris on the internet or why we like watching extreme sports. In fact, a lot people enjoy writing because it let’s them make awesome stuff in their books.
Be it a fight scene, a piece of dialogue, a character’s dress code, a weapon, a plot device, or a maguffin, we like awesome things. We love having adrenaline pump itself through our veins.
There’s nothing more satisfying than making that perfect dueling scene, or that awesome conversation. Writers live for that kind of thing.
Which is why in many of the cases that we grow tired of our books, we blame it on the lack of “exciting” stuff happening. And in many cases we have a point, and the second we add these things is the second we fall in love with the story again. But it’s not
always that simple.
So you’ve made your hero scale mountains, wade through dense bogs, wrestle with titans, tame a phoenix, and kill the world’s strongest fighter. Theoretically, you should be having a field day writing your novel.
Yet that’s the exact opposite of how you feel.
Sure, it was fun writing all those gratuitous fight scenes in the beginning. Seeing your hero’s sword cleave through the skulls of enemies is all fine and dandy, but something’s missing. Amidst all the gore and blood spatter, you’ve lost the essence of your novel, whatever that may be in your particular case.
All this cool stuff is happening, but it feels just as hollow as the slow bits in your WIP.
Suddenly, the prospect of lopping off heads is not nearly as tantalizing as it was before. That ancient city the heroes were to visit is no longer interesting anymore. That joke you wanted to make at the end of the chapter is not nearly as humorous as you wanted it to be.
This is because of a Writing Tip that Michael Bay should take into consideration: Cool stuff is cooler when it comes with build-up
You can have all the explosions you want, you can have all the death that suits your macabre tastes, the deities of your world can even descend and initiate Ragnarok for all you care. But all of these things are hollow without build-up.
If Frodo had just shown up at Mordor and destroyed the One Ring, it would not have been nearly as entertaining when compared to the journey he went on to do such a thing. If Luke had just blown up the Death Star at the beginning of the first movie, then we would have never cared. But each of these examples is one in which the creator took time to build up to the events that happen.
Events should not just be things that happen in a void, they should be purposeful and meaningful.
We like watching extreme sports because the stakes are high and the build up to the action only makes them higher. People love chess because the anticipation of your opponent’s moves always leave you at the edge of your seat. We deified Chuck Norris because…I actually have no idea. But you get what I mean!
The key here is to write with purpose.
You don’t want stuff to happen just because stuff happens (most of the time. Some people know how to do this well) that’s what real life is for.
Everything needs to have its own little buildup and reason for existing in your novel. That fight scene that you made, make sure that the hero decided to fight for a reason, that conversation you wrote, make sure that there’s a reason for that conversation to be happening.
Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and try to cram in as much cool stuff as we can. Only to find out that that cool stuff won’t be cool by the time we finish writing it. Just remember to ease up and examine your motivations for writing that scene. If you’re just writing it because it’s cool and you got bored, you might have a problem.
As always, this has been the QuestingAuthor. Keep writing, my friends.