January 24, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Filling In the Gaps (Or Giant Craters)

This week's Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish is a total free-for-all, so I'm picking a topic that relates to my current WiP. More on that in a second.

If you're anything like me, you're a list-maker - an avid list-maker, a list-making enthusiast, a 'list-making is my brand of heroin' kinda gal. I have multiple lists on the go at any given time for any number of different things I need to remember to do. My WiP is no exception. So, my topic is:

Top 10 Things To Develop Further In My WiP:

1)  Sci Fi Elements
My story is set some time in the future and I want to make this more evident. This is a lot trickier than I bargained for, let me tell you. Certain expressions that we use now, slang, and even words that have weaseled their way into our vocabulary through pop culture would seem out of place in the distant future. Technology would be different and most likely more advanced (assuming no major apocalyptic events have taken place). BUT, I don't want this to come across as corny or too try-hard. I don't want weird little words or distracting slang. I also don't way want over-the-top, unbelievable technology and gadgetry. I need to work on setting and voice in my WiP and these two areas are probably the best for inputting some of these futuristic elements. In small doses.

2)  Fleshing Out Mr. Bad Guy
What exactly is this person's motivation for doing what they do? What is it about them that inspires distrust, dislike, and even fear? I want this guy to be believable and for his actions and intentions to make sense in the story. His motivations are wrong, but you should be able to at least understand (not agree with) why he thinks and acts the way he does. Right now Mr. Bad Guy is feeling flat and not developed enough. Also, how did all of the tension/animosity/whatever between Bad Guy and my MC come about?

3)  Relationship: MC and Love Interest
Right now it seems like these two are fighting, making up, fighting, making up, and on and on. It's realistic that couples have squabbles, but I'm starting to wonder if this is all becoming a little too much like Sisyphus and his troublesome boulder. Because I'm a tool and included a love triangle (I know, I know, but it's important to the story), and since this relationship is the right one for my MC, it needs to be apparent to the reader. Ergo, more basis built into the story for why the reader should be Team 'Right Guy' and not Team 'Distraction'.

4)  Relationship: MC and 'Distraction' or Dude B
Like I said, the love triangle in my WiP serves a specific and significant purpose. Otherwise, I would have just stuck with one relationship. At present, Dude B is coming across as too appealing. Crud! My MC is not supposed to end up with this dude, so I need to find subtle ways to make that more obvious. I want him to be likable and believable as a potential suitor (never used that word before), but only to a point. He's wrong for her, and the reasons why should creep out gradually.

5)  Relationship: MC and Herself (no this isn't a Smeagol and Gollum scenario)
My WiP is told through a first person POV, which feels right for the story. While we're seeing everything through her eyes, I don't want this view to be completely outward. I'm working on the view inward as well - my MC working through her personal fears, dreams, wants, and needs.

6)  Secondary Characters
Are there enough of them? Do they serve a necessary purpose in the story? How much should they be fleshed out? How much page time should they get? All of these are questions I'm trying to answer and details I'm trying to sort out.

7)  Societal Norms and Taboos
This ties into #1, but is specifically aimed at the dos and don'ts of this future society. My story is not dystopian (<---Seriously, Blogger? Still? It's a word!!! Don't believe me? Page 424 of my Oxford Concise Dictionary, 9th Edition. Take that! Oh, and pass the news on to Word while you're at it.), but there are definitely elements that might feel a bit like a dystopian story. I have managed to incorporate a thing or two that underscores that this future society is very different than our own. There's something else coming down the pipes, but it needs further development.
8)  Crime and Punishment
As a (secluded) society set in the future, there are laws set in place for the individuals that are part of this society. I know what some of these are and the reasons for them (don't worry, I'm not bogging my story down with futuristic legalese) but I also need to decide what the repercussions for breaking these laws will be. Because they will be broken.

9)  Similarities Suck
We're all readers and those of us who are writers probably all run into the same problem: finding similarities in what we read that are too close for comfort to what we're writing. That sinking feeling in your stomach when you waffle between "Do I take it out?" and "Do I leave it alone?" totally stinks. I've had this happen a few times now, but mostly I'm not letting it get to me. Anything that I can legitimately say is a) used enough that it's no longer unique (but not cliche), b) gleaned from my own personal experience, or c) used in a different context is safe.  There are other things that have to go (like names), but fortunately they are easily altered. 

10)  The Element of Mystery
I'm reading A Million Suns by Beth Revis right now, and one of the (many) things it has that my story doesn't have enough of is this feeling of mystery surrounding it. There are all these questions that need answering in her story and while mine has some, I feel like it could use more. So really, what my story is in desperate need of is more plot. You know, nothing major at all. Awesome.

I'm sure this is all about as boring as reading a dictionary backwards, but I thought I'd share some of my process with you and/or get some suggestions. So...any suggestions?


  1. Love to hear about your process. And don't worry about the books with similar plots. Once yours is published those will be years old. (Meant to be encouragement, I swear!)

    1. Ha! I lol'd when I read that last bit :-) I think it's difficult to completely eliminate all similarities, so I'm just not going to bother.

  2. More plot... yes, my WIP needs that too. It's a great concept, and I have characters, and situation, and I have some plot. I have an idea of what happens. But right now I don't have enough plot to make the story compelling. That's probably the biggest problem I'm having with it right now. But I'm working on it. :)

    1. Yes, 'compelling', definitely. That's exactly my problem. I have a story and stuff happens, but is it interesting enough? Nope. Needs work. Glad I'm not the only one :-)

  3. I hate it when I re-read my own writing and realise it sounds like a book or a film I love. More often than not, I'll adapt it. But at the same time, all fiction reflects and builds on each other, so I never strive for total originality. As long as it sounds like my style, I'm happy.

    Have fun fleshing out your baddie!

    1. "All fiction reflects and builds on each other" - too true! There are very few new things under the sun. :-)

  4. Have you read Carrie Ryan's books? She has a great post on love triangles (http://carrie-me.blogspot.com/2010/05/but-when-are-you-going-to-write.html) but there are some spoilers. Essentially, though, her point is that one way to view love triangles is by focusing on the person choosing, not the choices being made (that's the gender-neutral way to phrase it, but for the sake of clarity, I'll use the one-girl-two-guys permutation from here on out.) Both guys might be true, viable choices, who could make the girl happy, and be "right" for her--but in choosing a guy, she's actually choosing who she wants to be. So rather than "Peeta is way better for Katniss than Gale!" it's "Does Katniss want to rage all-out war and seek revenge for what's been done to her, or does she want to try to heal and learn to care about people despite the mess the world is in?" It's a real decision, and up until the very end it could go either way. So, to apply this to your situation--it might be less about making Guy B less appealing, and more about figuring out how to guide your heroine to becoming the version of herself where Right Guy is the right guy. (Ok, Carrie Ryan says this a lot better!)

    Also--I am soooo intrigued by 1, 7, and 8! If you ever want an extra pair of eyes on any of this, you have my email!

    1. Yes, this is it exactly! My sister and I were talking about this very thing recently. I prefer the notion of the MC choosing who she wants to be (which is reflected in her choice of Right Guy). Thanks for reminding me of this - it kind of shifted my focus back in the right place :-)

      1, 7, and 8 probably sound more interesting than they actually are lol. I'll keep you in mind once I'm brave enough to share my story :-)

    2. I find that it makes the story more compelling, too, when I'm rooting for both guys--it makes the stakes feel a lot higher. (I think it shows in Ryan's writing, especially Forest of Hands and Teeth, which I thought had a really strong triangle-ish setup.)

  5. Sounds like you know what you need to do, and I think that's more than half the battle! I can't imagine coming up with a new diction for a dystopian world--I can see that being super fun and super annoying, all at the same time. :) Good luck!


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