Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Plot or Background?

My little NaNoWriMo group has been expanding lately. We’ve had a lot of new writers coming out of the woodwork, which isn’t too surprising, considering that we’re getting close to November.

I love the personal interactions we have. My Co-ML created a Facebook group a few years back, and we enjoy sharing writing tips, questions, and encouragement. Sometimes the advice is good, and sometimes, I need to bite my tongue to keep from getting into an argument.

Obviously, everyone has their own opinion on writing, and what makes a great book.

We had a person recently ask advice on how to expand her novel. She said that she has found that her story is usually too short for NaNoWriMo, and she doesn’t get to the 50,000 words before her story stops.

I told her to add some extra plot points. The characters have to get from A to B, but that doesn’t mean they get there in a straight line. There’s always something that could go wrong. More trials, misunderstandings, even added conflicts. I know that as a reader, I don’t mind how the author gets there, as long as the story is good and I’m taken along for the ride.

Unfortunately, someone else had a different idea. Her suggestion was that instead of building up the plot, to add a lot of detail about characters and their background.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with building your characters and background. It’s important, especially if you want your character to relate to them. But to have extra background stories so that your story’s word count goes up?

The thought makes me cringe. I’ve read books like that. Usually, I don’t finish them.

How about the rest of you? How do you make sure that your story has the length it needs?