What's wrong with my story?

Hey, so I’ve been working on my story for a while now (long before I posted it on wattpad) and after beginning thorough revision (for publishing on wattpad), I’ve come to realize my story is falling flat and it gets heavy/bogged down. Sometimes the story gets stuck or it feels like it’s spinning its wheels (spending too much time explaining something,
getting stuck in a scene for too long, etc) and I have no idea how to fix it. Currently, my story is over 58,000 words and I’ve noticed the issues arising in different chapters.
I wonder if the issue is stemming from how many times I’ve rewritten paragraphs and scenes or if it’s something else entirely.
If anyone is willing to offer me some advice, I’ll happily accept it. I have limited writing knowledge, so any help is appreciated. :slight_smile:

What is it about?

It’s a dystopian fiction with mixes of other themes (romance, etc).

Summary

brief description from my book:
Forced to fight for survival in an unfair world, Joshua finds himself entangled in a rebellion he once swore to never be a part of.

Joshua has lived alone in the new world for 8 years. He’s managed to stay alive but that’s as good as it gets out here. One day, by circumstance, Joshua meets a secretive man named Ryu, who has hidden intentions. After an odd request from someone he just met, he soon finds himself being swept away from the life he once knew and into a dangerous lifestyle.

Okay so that’s not usual what I read but I’m gonna try to give you some advice. First, stop editing and just write the story. When you’re done, then you can edit it. One thing I always do before writing my story is plan plan plan! For me, without this I just can’t finish and keep telling the same scene with some changes without even realizing what I’m doing.
Side note: I took a quick look at your story and if I were you I would try to make that prologue smaller
Hope I helped
Good luck

How about posting it chapter by chapter and asking for constructive criticism? That’s what I would do.

3 Likes

I did a quick check of the first chapter.

Go research on the writing topic telling and showing. I can tell from glancing at the first chapter I can tell it would be very beneficial for you. Your first chapter falls very flat due to the lack of showing.

3 Likes

Thank you for the advice. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Planner or pantser?

1 Like

Um, if by pantser you mean someone who just writes without a plan. Then yes, unfortunately that’s me.

2 Likes

okay.

first. you’ve written too much of the stuff that, in the grand scheme of the plot, doesn’t matter. he wakes up. his neighbours are noisy. he’s upset about it. he gets up, he goes into bathroom, he comes out, he makes his bed. you’ve not just told us (instead of showing us, as @Trevor_Davis mentioned) - you’ve overtold us. we’ve got about 5 paragraphs in chapter one that could have been summarised into one or two by making use of effective showing, as well as just cutting to the chase.

secondly, we’ve got very little to emotionally connect to, too, and that all comes down to show and tell. we haven’t really gotten a chance to get to know your character for ourselves - we’ve kind of just been told, here, feel this about him.

so yeah, i’d agree that overall, “show and don’t tell” is why your work feels flat.

advice?
i’d say maybe go back into each chapter and try find ‘the point’. i like to think of each chapter almost like a short story - it should be able to stand on it’s own. i should read it and think, “yeah, something’s happened here”. something that relates to the ultimate plot or point of the story.

once you’ve found the point, try to focus more on that, instead of giving us half a chapter of content that doesn’t impact the plot. work on showing us what’s going on. a good way to practice this is by writing short stories. the shorter they are, the more you get to challenge yourself and come to realise what is and isn’t important in a story.

5 Likes

Okay, great. Then I would recommend finishing your draft first, it’ll be easier to see the problems from above, once you have the whole thing in front of you.

When you get to that point, the number one thing I’d recommend is looking into story structure. Paying close attention to where certain scenes land and what is important will help immensely with the pacing. Save the Cat and Save the Cat: Writes a Novel are books I’ve found to be really helpful with learning story structure. The difference is that Save the Cat is a screenwriting book, and Save the Cat Writes a Novel is the same idea, written specifically for novel writers.

Then things like cutting scenes that don’t have a place, focusing on show not tell, and potentially getting beta readers to help you out.

First, though, finish.

3 Likes

Honestly, you’re absolutely right. After looking into show and don’t tell, I can see where it’s a major issue in my writing. To excuse my horrible over-telling, I had no clue that showing was even a thing in writing. I knew that I had something wrong in my story but I couldn’t place a finger on it. I think you and @Trevor_Davis just hit the nail on the head.

3 Likes

this is a great Q because i think you could also be facing a planning problem.

i used to just start stories - writing whatever came to mind and then i’d get about halfway and then blink because ‘what’s supposed to happen next?’

as a pantser-turned-planner, i’d say you should probably get the plot of your story down, too. be confident of where the story is going. have it written down somewhere, preferably.
you don’t need to have a super detailed plan, but have enough of the specifics such that when you find yourself stuck, you at least know where you’re supposed to be going.

3 Likes

I wholeheartedly agree. I eventually did end up developing a plot (end point and everything) but that wasn’t until chapter 11. You can imagine the damage on my chapters because I changed the plot drastically.
In the future, I’ll make sure I plan because I’ve already dealt with the problems that come with not planning.

Thank you so much for the help!

3 Likes

Joshua has lived alone in the new world for 8 years. He’s managed to stay alive but that’s as good as it gets out here. One day, by circumstance, Joshua meets a secretive man named Ryu, who has hidden intentions. After an odd request from someone he just met, he soon finds himself being swept away from the life he once knew and into a dangerous lifestyle.

This reminds me of the book “Z for Zachariah”. Have you read it?

No, never heard of it.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.