Adding More Filling To The Pie

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!

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6 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Writing

6 responses to “Adding More Filling To The Pie

  1. All the best as you work and re-work!

    janet

  2. It sounds like we’re at exactly the same stage with our first novels. I’m about to go back in for a second edit. It’s not plot I’m worried about in mine, but that as I edit, I’m reducing word count and it was already just under 80,000. How long was your first draft? Good luck with the re-plotting. Let me know how it goes.
    Claire

    • I think my first draft is about the same length, Claire, but I’m pretty sure it won’t suffer too much from the edits – the amount I need to add dwarfs the amount I need to remove, I think!

  3. Good luck with building your plot and stuff happening. You’ve got me worried now – does my WIP even have a plot? It tells a story, but is that the same thing?
    During my editing, I’ve found that the flash fiction exercises have been helpful in cutting waffley sentences into punchier, tighter ones. Although that hasn’t affected the word count much as I added more sentences to help the whole thing make sense.
    Good luck with sticking to the schedule.

    • Thanks, Sarah. I think on a basic level, telling a story is plot. But If a reader is going to get bored and feel like they are ploughing through the book, it needs more substance. That’s my theory anyway!

  4. It sounds like you have a good handle on what you want to do with the plot already. Good luck with all the plotting! 🙂

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