Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Should I Add [fill in the blank] To My Story?

I get asked this a lot when I discuss how a story might not be quite right for what I am looking for as an agent. "So, if I add this, would it make it better?" This is really a tough question because there is simply no answer to it other than, "If the story really needs it."

Too often, I believe writers add things to their stories simply because they think it will make it hotter, or make the story too interesting. They will have characters do things just to make the plot go one direction instead of another. Now, while this may work, the question you still have to ask yourself is "does the storyline really need it or not?"

When I did the webinar with Writers Digest last Thursday, one of the participants asked a similar question. She realized that all of her charcters were likeable in the story. She had the one antagonist, but that was it. She was wondering if, since all of the characters were nice, if she should put in some nasty ones as well.

This is one of those situations. Does the story really need more characters? Does the story need a few nasty characters? Maybe? Maybe not? The point is, just putting them into the story will not make it better.

Think of it this way. If I add pinstripes to a car, does it make it better? If I add 20 pinstripes, does that make it even better?

The same goes for adding things because your story isn't a particular genre. You write a story that you thought was a romance, but in reality, it was general fiction, or potentially women's fiction. So, does adding a happily ever after fix it? Again, probably not. If your story didn't need it when you wrote it the first time, and your gut told you so, why would you mess with it.

In the end, the key to all of this is to simply THINK! Don't change just to change. Don't add just to add.


1 comment:

  1. This is rather timely. I am in revisions of my romance horror and I am doing those "fixes" that I should perhaps not be doing. I felt I didn't explain some things good enough so I have found myself doing a lot of rewriting.
    I'm working on the next one as well and I'm sure not going to repeat the mistakes I made on the first one. Never again!