Friday, December 23, 2016

Simplify Those Plots

I find it frustrating as an agent when I see authors do this. I read their initial queries and the story sounds great! The story in that little blurb shows promise of a hero and heroine really growing together in this great relationship. It can be a historical, romantic suspense, contemporary... it doesn't matter. The story is simple, straightforward and to the point.

And then they send the partial and a synopsis.

Instead of the story being that straightforward story they offered in the query, these authors now fill the story with subplots, random characters, bizarre scenes, and who knows what else? The story is all over the place. That focus that we really want to see in a story just disappears as the author attempts to weave in all of these other elements.

I do believe many of these authors do this simply because they are focused more on the word count and not so much the story. They begin to panic as they realize they have already gotten those two characters together and they are only on chapter 2. Now what?

The issue here is depth of story telling. They aren't giving us a chance to really get to know the characters, their situations and they lives. They aren't giving the characters a chance to grow together and get to know each other. Give the readers a chance to enjoy the ride and not rush things.

I also believe authors do this because they think the story is going to be boring or it needs to be unique to stand out. I think a great analogy for this would be people getting together for a dinner party. Instead of letting people just talk and chat, the hosts suddenly fill the party with activities, games and so forth. There is a belief that if they don't do this, people will just end up being bored. Of course, the end result is that the get together becomes trivial and meaningless.

I read one premise in a women's fiction piece where a young girl simply wanted to take some time off after school and just get her life in place. She needed a little perspective. Not a bad idea. But then the author decided to have this person in some really weird places. While these, on the surface, might seem to be ways to explore elements of her life, these scenes were out of character for the protagonist, and also required a lot of explanation as to how and why she would be doing this.

If you are worried about the word count element, relax. Take the time to just let the characters do their thing. Keep an eye on the message you want to get across to your reader and make everything in your story work toward fulfilling that goal. The depth of storytelling will really enhance the story without all of that frivolous extra stuff.

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