After a recent rejection of a short story, I put it to my peers for review and critique. I learned a lot.
It wasn’t clear what the problem was, or who it was that had the problem. As writers of fiction, we know that conflict is what makes a story, and resolution of conflict is what keeps the reader happy. Although in my mind there was conflict, it wasn’t clear to the reader.
Everyone has a problem of sorts. It may be big, or it may be small. But it is essential to story. It could be anything.
So I sat with my story, picked who was going to have the problem, wrote what the problem was and thought how it may be solved. I may still have got it wrong. But I have learned something. And I will learn more.
So, next time you are stuck, and your story feels flat, sit your character down and ask: What’s Your Problem?