A few drafts in, we get so familiar with our YA manuscripts that the story begins to feel like an old friend.
We know it backward and forwards, where each scene is and what happens in each scene. But we also smooth out the edges in our minds and it becomes harder and harder to look at our manuscripts with a critical eye. We get to a point where we go over all our pages only to discover we don’t know how to push them forward.
To help out when that happens, we’ve compiled a few prompts to help you get fresh eyes on your story.
- Place one of your characters in their worst nightmare situation. See how they get out.
- Write about your character getting exactly what they want. Are they as happy as they thought they would be?
- Write a story where you meet your character on the street.
- Send your characters to a party and have them interact with each other.
- Have your character fill out a Meyers Briggs personality test. See how their actions in your story line up with the description in the test.
- Write a scene without dialogue (check out the Hush episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for inspiration).
- Or do the opposite. Write a scene using only dialogue.
- Write the background story of your character and how they developed their emotional flaw that drives your story.
- Fill out a character sheet! Writer Rin Chupeco has created a great template here.
- Is there a religious system in your world? What does it look like?
- How does government work in your world?
- Is there some sort of hierarchy in your world?
- What is the history of your world? How was it created?
- (World Anvil is a great resource for worldbuilding)
- Open up any book on your bookshelf. Pick a sentence. See if you can use it in a story with your characters.
- Write a scene of your story in verse.
- Write a scene of your story in comic book form. (extra points for drawing!)
- Write a scene of your story from a different character’s point of view.
- Find a photo of someone online from the time period you’re writing about. Write a story about them as a side character in your universe,
- Write your story as if it was a front page newspaper article.
- Create a Twitter for your story like Rumaan Alam.
After you’ve done a prompt, if you still need fresh eyes for your story, it can help to have someone else take a look at the manuscript. Critique partners and beta readers will notice things about your story that you won’t.
You could also take time away from your work. Start outlining and researching for a new project or pick up one you shelves while ago, and tuck your manuscript away for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It should be enough time that when you go back to your story, you’re surprised at what you find.