Write the High Points and Forget the Rest


Starting a new story is so much easier than plowing ahead in the middle of a novel you’re already writing. The feeling is different in the middle. The sky is no longer the limit. A blank canvas is no longer telling your imagination to run anywhere it pleases at a whim.

Instead, the middle of your novel brings you limits, organizational tasks, and fears of letting down the magic you hope you’ve created.

Writer’s block lives in the middle of novels.

But what if you could start every chapter as if it were the beginning of a new story?

To some extent you can. Ask yourself to pretend there are no limits, worries or plot responsibilities weighing on the middle chapters. There’s only that burning desire to share something shocking, different, real, and maybe a little angry.

Start writing about it. Write anything you feel strongly about.

When you’ve got the feeling back, the sense that you’re creating something that fulfills you, ease up on the throttle and throw in some plot development to move things forward.

Don’t be afraid to skip unimportant things.

Because of the How-To books I’ve read and the OCD that I deny having, I feel compelled to describe the drive to the airport, the parking of the Hummer, the walk through the terminal, the quick trip to the bathroom before boarding the plane. This is counterproductive and boring.

Write only the high points of your story.

It’s not merely OK to exit from the heat-to-heart talk at Maxwell’s place and start the next chapter abruptly at 40,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean with the protagonist and antagonist meeting for the first time, it’s actually necessary to write this way… from peak to peak.

One of the keys to writing a meaningful page-turner is forcing yourself to leave out the humdrum of real life.

I’m often afraid to do this because of that word, “real.” I want my story to feel real. Really real!

But if nobody ever reads it, it won’t feel real or otherwise.

The sense that a story has come alive and found reality comes from the quality of the reader’s emotions, not from the way the story details mirror linear events in a beautifully realistic way.

Reader’s emotions are dictated by the emotions of the main characters. The main character’s emotions are strongest in the high points: the deeply meaningful scenes and the action-orientated passages.

Try to move from one high point to the next, leaving the intervening steps blank, as much as possible. I know it’s hard.

But doing this lightens your work, side-steps writer’s block, and makes the reader’s time more exciting.

You’ll sound like a more confident writer with a strangely fearless voice.

M. Talmage Moorehead

My current in-progress version of Johanna’s novel is not merely character driven, it’s written by a girl from a parallel universe. If you’re interested in intelligent design, weird artifacts, genetics and psychology from the perspective of a nineteen-year-old “Hapa Girl,” it may be a fun read. The protagonist, Johanna, is a genius geneticist with a younger brother who struggles with depression, though you wouldn’t know it to meet him. Her evolving story starts here.

It’s an experiment called, Hapa Girl DNA, and is a hybrid itself – a tightrope crossing of fiction and non-fiction. “Hapa” is the Hawaiian term for “half.” Johanna is half Japanese and half Jewish. In writing her novel, she and I ignore some important fiction-writing rules, partly because we like to test dogmas, and partly because it’s fun to try new things.

But the “rules” are essential knowledge to anyone crazy enough to either break them or follow them mindlessly.

So you could download my e-book on fiction writing, the second to last chapter of which gives my current opinions on many of the dogmatic rules of fiction writing. Downloading that 10,000 word file will place you on my short list of people who will be politely notified when my traditional novel is done – possibly before the next ice age. (No spam or sharing of your info. I haven’t sent an email to my list yet. It’s been over a year.)

Next time you’re writing emails, if you think of it, please tell your best and hopefully weirdest friend about my blog (www.storiform.com). Thanks! I appreciate your thoughtfulness.