Flat: When Your Pop Has Lost It’s Fizz

Mountain Dew is one of my favorite kinds of decadence. Is it any wonder I’m a Romantic Suspense writer? Probably not. It’s the same reason I love roller coasters and action movies. Fast, with a twist of heart pounding.

But what happens when your pop has lost it’s fizz? You throw it in the trash, dump it down the sink or water your least favorite plant. No matter how you get rid of it, that is the definite goal.

Pop loses it’s fizz when it’s left out too long, or in the fridge open. Our books can lose their fizz too, kind of like pop.

Ways your book can lose its fizz:

Drawing It Out Too Long. Just like pop, a story loses its fizz when we leave it out too long. If you draw out one section of the story too much, dwelling on one tension point too long, then it is weighed down. We are focused on the problem, but so intensely that the plot quits moving forward.

Possible Cures:

*Add a twist or surprise to the section of the story that is dragging. An unexpected nugget of truth or something the reader is not expecting

*Add another disappointment or setback in that section, so that the focus is on multiple problems and not just one.

*Deepen the danger or tension. If it is a suspense, bring the villain in close to the characters without them even knowing it. If it is romance, bring in a well meaning person that makes things more complicated.

Releasing The Pressure. Pop loses its fizz when the pressure of the sealed can is released. It is the same in our novels. When we resolve too many of the tension points, the story falls flat.

Possible Cures:

*Add a new danger or conflict that will bring tension to the story. This can come from the outside edges of the story as well. For example, you find out the killer has an accomplice. Or, an old flame is coming back to town.

*Add a personal crisis. The heroine finds out she can’t have children which the hero loves, a new family member is threatened by the villain, a mother suffers a heart attack, you have been left a beneficiary in a will which takes you away unexpectedly, etc.

What are some ways that you cure the flat novel syndrome?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

8 thoughts on “Flat: When Your Pop Has Lost It’s Fizz

  1. Pat Trainum says:

    Bring in a body. I think that’s what Lawrence Block or John D. MacDonald said. lol

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    That does the trick…that’s for sure!

  3. rand2423 says:

    Great ideas! What about adding humor to a tense situation to put the fizz and pop back in?

  4. If you’re wondering who rand2423 is…it’s me, Michelle. I need to “fix” my WordPress name. I’m enjoying your posts, Michelle.

  5. Beth K. Vogt says:

    When my writing is flat I stop and go back and look at the ever-trusted “spine.” Have I veered from my story question? Have I forgotten my characters’ motivations — the reasons they are doing what they’re doing? Sometimes I just need to straighten things out again.

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