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How to Thicken a Plot

28 August 2011

Passive Guy has neglected publishing pro and acquisitions editor Alan Rinzler for too long.

Alan provides some valuable tips for keeping your readers awake:

Here’s a situation that editors encounter frequently: manuscripts with a large cast of potentially interesting characters, sparkling dialogue, and the glimmer of ideas churning just beneath the surface.

But after a little while the scenes become repetitious, the characters and their machinations turn formulaic — and reading becomes a chore.

. . . .

If your manuscript has been receiving rejections accompanied by vacant stares and long yawns, check out these red flags and solutions.

Remember:  Readers need plot!  Or they doze off.

. . . .

Red flag #1: No compelling leading character

You need characters with whom the reader can get involved. Don’t give readers only big losers or unattractive predators. They need to feel either joy or empathic sorrow at what happens to the person they carry around in their head for days.

Take care not to introduce too many characters. Diluting the reader’s focus of engagement is one of the biggest problems I see in early drafts. Pick a couple of core characters to expand and reduce the rest to essential supporting roles.

. . . .

Red flag #3: No change

The main characters should develop dramatically for better or worse, winding up in quite a different situation than they were at the beginning regarding their identities, relationship, thoughts and feelings. This substantial transformation is what the story is about. It’s the promise, the takeaway for your reader.

Be ready to add substantial new scenes that introduce difficult challenges that alter the characters’ lives, and provoke their evolution.

Link to the rest at The Book Deal

Fiction Fundamentals, Writing Advice

3 Comments to “How to Thicken a Plot”

  1. Really, really, really useful. Thank you for posting. Going to read the rest now.

  2. It is always good to be reminded of these essential plot tips.

  3. I’d add one more Red Flag to Mr. Rinzler’s list. Mistaking situation for plot. That’s the number one plotting problem I see in manuscripts and the number one reason a published book goes onto the DNF pile (did not finish).

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