Approaching the end of February, and I’m desperately trying to finish my first read-through of The Phoenix Fire, in accordance with my editing plan. I’ve just taken a week off to spend time with my best friend who came out to meet Sebastian. I don’t regret that at all, but it does mean I’m going to have to knuckle down to finish the read-through by Friday.
However, I’ve already made an important discovery in what I’ve read so far: there isn’t enough plot. The draft is long enough, maybe even a bit too long, in terms of word count, but there is nothing like enough happening to sustain interest for a full novel. It’s probably a symptom of this being the first novel-length story I’d written (not counting a romance I wrote in school), but I don’t suppose my recent spate of flash fiction writing is going to help me fix it.
Novels keep you reading because you want to know what happens. Not just to the main characters, but also to a bunch of minor ones. And you have to believe something will happen, that the author isn’t just giving a long-winded description of a boring life. Although I reckon that description would apply to a few classics, I don’t think I can rely on that to carry me through – Remains of the Day, anyone?
What this story needs are more themes, sub-plots, twists and turns, tangents and probably lots of other tricks. Yes, most novels can be boiled down to a one or two sentence plot summary, but they have to be much more than that when you read them. A “Beef Pie” isn’t generally tasty without the gravy, vegetables … and enough beef (or horse, if you’re British) in the filling.
I think the challenge of re-writing TPF is going to be harder than even I thought!