Monday, August 1, 2011

Afraid to Add

A lot of writing advice says that you write a first draft and that most editing is spent subtracting the junk, namely adverbs, rambling, and... (egads!) characters. When I edit, that's what I do. Subtract, subract, subtract. There are tons of big X's over entire paragraphs of writing. Sometimes, a whole page is deleted. Sometimes I cringe when I do this. But my mantra: I have to stick to the story.

But, when I went through my cast, which is relatively large (11 constant members), I looked at who to cut in order to make my book more streamline. I couldn't. Each character held a specific purpose that corresponded to the story.

So, I made a list of things that, as a reader, would annoy me. Then, I cracked open my Tiger's Quest book and let these issues go. I take breaks while I'm reading, little pauses to get something to drink or get fresh air. On these little breaks, I would ponder my problems, not fuss over them, but consider them.

I realized these problems not only needed explanation, but they needed good cause in order to keep their places in my book, otherwise they'd be deleted. And I could fix several problems by further probing into my protag's mother's backstory. Her mother passed away and up until now, that is all my protag has revealed about her. At first it was a car wreck, but then I decided to use something less common. But that's where I left it. Her mom was gone, end of story.

However, by adding more of the backstory on her mom, I am going to fix my problems in a domino effect kind of way. One fix easily fixes the problems down the line. The added bonus is that my protag is given more depth. More seeds are planted in this novel for future novels. Win, win!

It helps that my book's length is within the bounds for me to add this backstory. I say, don't be afraid to add long as you're subtracting too. You have to do what your story calls for. Don't get trapped in advice. Know the rules, follow the rules, and on occasion break the hell out of the rules.

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