Today our writing tip is based on a problem that I’ve been thinking a lot about in my book, Bayonet. Reading this, you can use what I will use to fight the difficulty, should you ever encounter it in your own writing. What is it? Well, in my book, I have a group of people that are strongly disliked by basically everybody, except the main character of course. In my entire book, a novel, they only show up three times, the first two experiences set apart widely. I’m afraid that they are not brought up enough. What if the reader forgets about them or considers them out of the picture? That cannot be an option, ’cause unless my planning is drastically edited, they all become main characters in books two and three of the series, and it wouldn’t be any good if they’re not important to the reader in book one if they have to become important later.
OK, so what happens? How do I make them more involved in the story?
Well, that is a biggie, because a large part of the plot is a governmental issue where a whole bunch of people are against this kid, the MC. So, maybe I need to intertwine these other peeps (we’ll call them “The Warriors”) into that. No can do, ’cause they’re not a part of the government. Or the people under the government. Heck, they’re not even a part of the same country! They’re a whole different people!
OK, so here’s another problem. My story is a first-person novel. During the time the The Warriors are not seen, my MC undergoes a chain of events that are connected with one another so tightly they might as well be tied together with steel cords, and it is very hard to find an opening for the MC to see The Warriors. Yikes. What do we do?
A large part of me wants to say to get a blowtorch and melt those steel cords away. That way we can make an opening easy. What I mean by this is to just plain stop the chain of events for a while and make time for The Warriors to be seen. Just make one opening, and the MC can visit The Warriors, and the readers remember them again, and we all live happily ever after. Bingo. Not so much.
If I do that, two things will happen.
- The long chain of events that draws the reader into each chapter, he or she not bearing to stop reading it for even a moment, is broken. The crazy action that sucks them in has to be held until a later point, turning it into suspense. In other words, a cliffhanger. In one respect you may think that benificial. After all, the reader will plow through to see what happens next in the chain of events. However, it is the abrupt stop in the chain that is really the bad part. Think about it. “MC’s in jail! MC’s gonna escape! MC—is going into the woods to see his friends who I really don’t care about that much.” Good? No.
- The other problem is that the MC has no real reason to go see The Warriors. What does it have to do with the story as a whole?
OK, so you got my point. What do we do instead of Operation Blowtorch?
We need to disassemble the steel cords for one. This means disassemble the plot, the chain of events. This does not mean throw everything into the trash and start new. This means taking it apart into individual chapters, sections, even paragraphs. We first rearrange the pieces so that a convenient opening is made, and then see why this opening is needed for the story. We figure that out, and fill in the rest.
Bingo. This time, it’s for real.
Another thing that I’m thinking about doing is using my handy-dandy epigraphs. Don’t know what epigraphs are? They’re those short paragraphs at the beginning of chapters, usually excerpts or quotes. In my case, they are made up to add depth into the story. If I make some epigraphs for The Warriors, I make sure the reader doesn’t forget them. It helps a little bit more.
Does it sound good? Now I need to actually do it, using these techniques. And maybe you’ll have an experience similar to this, and you can use this too.
I hope you enjoyed this writing tip! Thanks for reading it, and I’ll see you next time!