Searching for Substance

>> Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm still musing over the Art rewrites. I want to have it ready in the off chance a request for more than 25 pages comes through via the Daphne finals, although I realize its a long shot. But I figure, even if no request is made, the revisions have to be made.


I've been over and over this ms, trying to figure out why it feels so...flat, so...superficial. I think I've identified the reason, or part of the reason, but I haven't discovered a way to fix the problem.

In past manuscripts, I've uncovered depth by digging into my characters, discovering the worst possible thing that could happen to them, take it one step further, give it a twist, then throw the life-altering grenade into the ring.

A few of those little beauties have helped in this manuscript, but its still missing something. It needs substance. It needs a deeper universal appeal.

It needs teeth.

Where do you find that essential grip for your stories?

2 comments:

Edie 4:54 PM  

Joan, that's an interesting question. I try to raise the stakes now too, and delve deeper into the characters, just as you do. I have Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. He has a lot of great exercises--but I'm guessing you either own or have read it.

Usually a solution comes to me eventually. If you've tried everything, maybe find a reader whose opinion you trust?

Good luck!

Elisabeth Naughton 11:56 AM  

Something I did with my last book - and which I'm doing with the wip (and which gave me an aha! breakthrough so I can finish the damn thing), is to ask myself, what would your character NEVER do or give up? Then figure out a way to make them give it up or do that very thing you are sure they would never ever do. Deepens the characters, adds more teeth, gives the book substance. It also creates a fabulous character arc.

Of course, now that I know what my her would never do or give up, and now I know what he MUST do or give up at the end, I have to figure out "logistically" how that's going to happen. But I can finally see the end, and I really really like where it's going.

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