The Time I Wrote Half a Plot11:00
I’m currently hiding out in the editing cave again, working on one of my fantasy novels. It’s in its sixth draft now (the first three drafts being complete rewrites), so it should be in the exciting stage where it’s all starting to come together and look like a book. Maybe it might even have reached the point where I could think about polishing the prose. Haha. No. I started this edit by attempting to plug what seemed like a minor plot hole. But the closer I looked, the more problems I found, until I came to the terrible realisation. My book only had half a plot.
Now, let me get something straight. It has a plot. Said plot goes from the beginning to the end of the book. It makes sense (mostly). I’ve spent a long time getting to know my main character’s journey, digging into her backstory and examining her motivation. Her plotline is solid as. But in all my planning and editing, I forgot one important thing. My main character is not the only character in this story, and she’s not the only one with a stake in the plot.
Obviously, the villain is an important character. And there are at least three other characters in my book who play an important part. But their movements revolve around what my main character was doing, rather than them having lives of their own. In fact, for part of the plot, the main character tags along with my other characters rather than the other way around. Even my villain’s plotline was sketchy at best. Cue great consternation as I realised just how much of the plot was missing.
The main character is important, true. The story is told from their point of view. But they can’t live for the other characters. If the other characters don’t have their own plotlines and conflicting goals, the book is flat, dull, and everything goes way too easily. In my book, because the characters all have the same goal, there is very little conflict between the good characters. The way my plot pans out once they all have a plotline, everyone has a different goal. Everyone has a different life, and when they clash, it gets exciting in arguments, tension, and grudges. And makes for great reading.
Next time you’re editing, check up on your other important characters. What does the plot look like from their point of view? What is their plan? How does the main character fit into their lives? Plot their movements from before the book starts if you need to. Hopefully you’ll find that you know a lot more about your characters than I do about my poor bunch. But don’t make my mistake. Your other characters are important. They have their own plotlines and lives. Give them a little attention. You never know, that might be the lift that your book needs to fill some plot holes, or to make it richer.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made while editing? Have you ever written half a plot?