Posted by: Katie B | September 30, 2010

My girl went for a ride on page 137, and she never came back.

So what happens when you reach page 137 of your 325 page novel, and you find that your main character has left the building?  She has left, and you don’t see her returning in time for the dramatic climax / resolution.  Where did she go?  How did you lose her after so much time together?  How do you get her back?

What a huge flaw.  But not uncommon.  I have heard it from others.  You spend so much time focused on all the details, the plot, the geography, the eloquent phrases to snare you that Pulitzer, that you forget all about characterization.  What would my heroine do in this instance?  How would she react?  Honestly, I don’t know, but the sunset I’ve described is enough to bring a parole violator to tears.  Isn’t that enough?

Um, well, no.  You need her if you want a book that has a story that people will want to read.  Rats. 

So, what now?  The answer:  courtship.  Court your girl.  Get to know her again.  Find out her likes and dislikes, her flaws and her charms.  Practice question and answer sessions with her.  What would she say to this or to that.  Entice her to return with promises of committment.  You won’t abandon her again.  Once you have her back, reintroduce her to the story.  Review each encounter to make sure it rings true.  It’s a painful process, but you won’t succeed without it.  You need to rediscover one another.  What a wonderful opportunity to fall in love again!  (Just keep telling yourself that.)

So that’s what I’m off to do today.  Date my main character.  Nice rainy day – it should go well.  Here’s to hoping!


  1. ask her to name her favorite animal, then give three adjectives about that animal.

    ask her to name her favorite color, then give three adjectives about that color.

    once she’s given you those answers, let me know, and i’ll write back to tell you what they mean (unless you know this parlor game already… a favorite played on my “dates.”)

    • Once I find her, I’ll ask her, and I’ll be sure to let you know. Thanks for the laugh…

  2. I wonder what other authors do in this situation. I just read “Under the Dome” by Stephen King and, having read most of his other books, I thought about the characters in that book and what he might do given the same situation. I think he might, instead of take them on a date, dump them in a well and hang out with them while they figure out how to get out or if they will give up. A way to strip away all the other extra stuff and have them just focus on telling him how that character would respond to a given situation.

    Certainly not as pastoral as a date, but I would probably wipe some cobwebs away. 🙂

    All you needed…input from someone who doesn’t write.

  3. After I bludgeon her, I’ll take her out for a date. Thanks for the inspiration. I’m always up for trying a new angle when the first one fails.

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