Oh boy. Last week, my novel writing group (honestly, it’s more like a novel writing support group at this point) met online for a topic we called, “Problems, problems, problems.” Everyone brought two or three problems they were experiencing with their working manuscripts and we would try to brainstorm solutions as a group.
I’d like to think I gave some good advice but man oh man did I ever get some good advice! To be honest, my haughty brain didn’t think I’d really get much out of this exercise. I’m so darn sure of myself and my project – how could anyone possibly help me? PROTIP: shut up, Deidre, you need some help.
My three problems were thus:
- [My character] is too similar in both appearance and behavior to the character of [not my character] in the TV show [some show]. I need to tweak him enough to be different but not SO much that he is no longer the gruff but fair mentor who raised Red to Hunt.
- I’m always worried about pacing. Especially when it comes to developing plot when there isn’t as much action. Keeping plot and subplot moving along is hard for me.
- Building tension is always a challenge. In my first book, I re-wrote the same tension-building, suspenseful scene about 20 times and I’m still only kind of sure that it works. Ugh!
As a group, we gave each person about 20 minutes to ask some questions about their problem and for the group to give her some feedback and ideas. Well, I knew that 20 minutes wasn’t going to be enough time for me to discuss my long-standing problems with pacing and building tension, let alone solve them. So! Character problems it was!
I needed help moderately changing some of the signature style of one of my secondary characters without changing who he was at heart. And bless my group, they came through for me! Rather than a bit of a mountain man, it was suggested that my character would be just as effective as a cowboy character. And the more I thought on it, the more I was sold! Plus it would give me the chance to let him get all flummoxed by women and children in a more warm and charming way than the old version.
Thank you, Ni6ers, for your ever-helpful advice!