A famous author once said that every book should contain a love story. Now, that author might not have thought that the love story needed a sex scene, but many novelists writing in every genre do include sex scenes in their books. And there’s a problem with that.
Setting is a crucial part of any story. A while ago, I said it could be handled essentially as a character—for example, by using it to focus on the senses and build emotion. But you can also make your story placement meaningful, not just convenient. You want your setting to be more than a backdrop for events.
Many well-known writers have such distinctive writing styles that after reading a few paragraphs, you can identify a book’s author without seeing the cover. In fact, some writers have such distinctive voices that readers pick up their books solely because a particular name is on it,
Let’s say that you’ve written the first draft of your novel, and maybe you’ve even checked to see that all your turning points, your scenes and sequels, are where they’re supposed to be.
For readers of genre fiction, emotion is everything. Mystery readers are looking for suspense. Romance readers are looking for love on the page. And if you don’t generate those emotions in your readers, you’ve failed as a novelist.
Have you ever picked up a book and read back cover copy that sent shivers down your spine? You know what I mean: stories located in a peaceful country garden filled with sweetpeas and butterflies, or the brooding castle that bristles with medieval weaponry—these are the settings that tell you what adventures lie in store.
Most writers, sooner or later, will hit the problem of the Sagging Middle. The story pacing slows—the plot might even bore you a little bit now—and you don’t know what to do about it.