In the January 2014 edition of Writer’s Digest, Elizabeth Sims wrote about seven common miscalculations and missteps that keep your novel from getting published. She also offers advice on how to cure them. My problem falls under the ‘Long Story Short Syndrome’ and she suggests using this trick:
“Take two unrelated heart-clutching moments, or two unrelated story points, or even two unrelated characters, and challenge yourself to come up with a way to link them. Use the first element as the beginning, the second as the end.” Sims says, “Experienced storytellers across all mediums (notably scriptwriting) rely on this technique to add interest and complexity.”
So, I poured over my manuscript, chapter by chapter, trying to find something to expand upon without it seeming like padding the word count. My frustration only increased. I wasn’t ready to give up, but I had to step away.Here is a TMI moment. While taking a shower, (all my best ideas occur during a shower) I pondered my dilemma and a glimmer began making its way from the recesses of my mind to that place where ideas gather. It was simple, really. Within the story is a flashback (one of several, actually). It was written to show the bond between the master character and someone from her past. I started deconstructing that scene in my mind, looking at it from different angles. Within that scene is a character who is never named, but has a huge impact on the master character. Why not have him show up again later in the story?
It was like I found a loose thread in that flashback and pulled. As it unraveled, I saw a connection, a way to add to the mystery and drama that is already prevalent. It also opened my eyes to another character that had stayed in the background, but needs to be brought to the forefront. I was a bit overwhelmed at the breakthrough.
Now, I need to figure out how to make these threads weave through the established story without seeming to be afterthoughts. To pull it off, research is required. If the government is monitoring my search engine habits, they’ll surely put me on some kind of list. I’ve googled the subject spectrum in the past week, from military ranks to sentences for specific crimes.
The task before me is daunting. I need another 30,000+ words to reach 80,000. I do hope I can pull it off, because I truly love my story and characters. I’m not ready to give up on them just yet.