Wednesday, September 6, 2017

5 Ways to Spice Up a Lukewarm Manuscript by Michelle Griep

You know that story you've written that's hiding in a drawer? The one that's finished but it's just meh? The one you love but know isn't market ready and you're not quite sure why? Have I got a handy dandy checklist for you . . .

1. Cause Trouble

When it comes to characters and story, safety is overrated. If your characters aren't having the rug yanked out from beneath them in every chapter, forget about it. You think readers want to wade through a dung pile of description for pages on end? The answer is no, they don't, and I don't care how clever your prose is. Ramp up the tension, not the exposition.

2. Speed It Up

Think about it. What's more exciting to watch? A Nascar race with squealing tires and burning rubber, or a blue-haired senior shuffling along with a walker? Pacing is everything when it comes to story. Put the pedal to the metal and keep the action whizzing by.

3. Shove Your Reader to the End of their Seat

Cliffhangers aren't only for the climax of a story. Use them at the end of every scene. Wait, did you hear me? EVERY scene. Don't give your reader a reason to yawn and close your book.

4. Zigzag and Switchback

Predictability is death. Except for a few die-hard formula romance readers, no one wants to have the story figured out from page one. As an author, it's your job to keep the reader guessing.

5. Toss in Some Clown Pants

Humor has its place in every book, no matter the genre. Sprinkled throughout, a good grin creates levity, breathing space, and contrast.

So go ahead and pull out that manuscript. Give these techniques a whirl. You'll have a spicey dicey story in no time.

Have you tried any of these tips to revive a less-than-stellar manuscript? Any suggestions to add?


England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancĂ©, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of both Regency and Colonial historical romances but also leaped the writerly fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. Keep up with her escapades at or stalk her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.