Momentum Part 2

momentum (1)In the same way that you as a writer must practice momentum to remain in the story, so your story must have momentum to propel the reader onward.

Fiction, more than anything else, is a balancing act. Some time ago, I wrote about Charles Baxter’s idea of stillness, of slowing down the action to focus on the minutiae of setting and detail. The idea was to slow things down between moments of action. However, it is definitely possible to have too much “stillness,” or even too much exposition. We get caught up explaining rather than pushing our characters forward.

So how do we keep our readers interested? How do we push them forward? By kicking our characters in the hind quarters, by getting them moving, our readers will follow along.

The lack of momentum is a problem I’ve struggled with in my current project. There was a lot of exposition, a lot of detail and introspection, etc. I wrestled with the book as a whole—where was it going? What I found was that this lack of direction resulted in a lack of forward motion. I was too afraid that the direction I would take would be wrong, that I didn’t move at all. I was paralyzed by indecision.

Essentially, I reverted back to what worked with my last book—I made some serious trouble for my protagonist and watched him move. Then, I followed him along. I can’t say I know where they’re going now, but at least they’re moving, and that makes me want to move, too. It makes me want to write.

General rule of thumb—if you’re enjoying the momentum of your fiction, your readers will, too. Strap in. Let the story move.

9 Comments on Momentum Part 2

  1. janet anderson | March 27, 2013 at 10:44 am | Reply

    when you write a book you must have a olan and direction or else the reader is gonna be confused you need your character etc. ypou need to pushe them so you can have a direction and if you aren’t sure about the direction you have the choice to not go the right path or you can build up to it.

  2. dina rodriguez | March 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Reply

    It’s sometimes hard to keep a character going, when your characters are kind of just.. sitting there it can be hard to get them moving again. You cant just have a character hanging around then throw a monster in his face. Well actualy you can, but you get my point

  3. Summer Connell | March 28, 2013 at 11:03 am | Reply

    I like my character to be in a scene for a long time, it makes things easier but also boring. So yea it’s good to put action in there.

  4. The worst thing that can happen to your character is letting him or her become a couch potato. What I mean is letting the character just sit there, languishing in a lack of action until he or she becomes this giant, pulsating mass of thought that does nothing but introspect and observe.
    Take your protagonist, and go. Fly. Is your character thinking of becoming a doctor? Then throw in a dire situation in which their limited skills are needed. Maybe your character has a huge crush on someone much older. What happens if they coincidentally bump into that special someone, but they’re out with their husband or wife?
    Remember, action isn’t always about blazing guns and fiery explosions. But something does need to be happening.
    Write well, write often.

  5. Christian Beaman | April 15, 2013 at 10:42 am | Reply

    Placement of a character is very hard when you don’t know where to put the object, moving the character and keeping momentum is also a struggle of mine but usually creates for action and friction.

  6. De Zerae Fraijo | April 15, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Reply

    Oh, this sounds like a struggle I’ve faced time and time again.
    I have experienced writer’s block way too many times, and I know that I’m going to continue down that path for as long as I write.
    There are times that I am very afraid of where my character will go. Sometimes I’ll push him one way, and it’ll lead to a dead end.
    As of right now, he’s on a path that is yet to be discovered; I just hope that he’ll bare with me just a little bit longer.

  7. Drew Williams | April 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Reply

    Stillness is important in a book, without it the characters would just be dancing around in an empty room. If there is too much explaining and not enough action, the book is also boring.

  8. Momentum helps balance out action and language. It also keeps a story going and your audience interested in the book or movie.
    But if u have so much action or language then your audience wouldnt be as interested ss you thought they would be.

  9. JessicaRae Padilla | April 20, 2013 at 11:52 am | Reply

    This is difficult for me because I have focused much on writing stories with characters and when I do it’s first person I explain how the character feels from there own perspective. But when I do write about the character and trying to explain them I get to much into detail trying to add more friction and or action the the point I’m trying toile and it just ends up being to much, and when that happens it gets too confusing for the reader. So momentum is something I defiantly need to work on to becoming a stronger writer.

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