A February 3, 2012 blog post by Sharon K. Souza of Novel Matters caught my attention.
Souza said, “I tend to write novels with just a handful of characters, and only a few plot lines. I’m always impressed with complex novels and wish I could pull off that kind of writing, but my story worlds tend to be small and anything but epic. Maybe that’s because I so love to become emotionally intimate with my characters. I want to get inside their heads. Literally. I tend to write in first person, and especially love first person, present tense. In order to pull that off, there’s a lot of internal dialogue on my pages. I find that reflective of me, internal dialogue going on inside my head all the time. I’m sure that’s true of most writers.”
Internal dialogue with a focus on several important characters fills the pages of my novel “Grow Old With Me.” Souza labels herself as a minimalist writer. I’d say I lean in that direction. Minimalists focus on the inner workings of a few key characters. Learning what makes each one tick sets the stage for the novel.
Many beginning writers try to pen epic novels.
It’s a challenge for even seasoned writers to write this type of book. An epic novel can span multiple territories, have myriad characters, and deal with complex plot details that are difficult to communicate. Some writers have several story lines tumbling over each other. If that’s the case, don’t toss all the details in one book. I’ve seen some beginners who try to shove it all into a couple chapters. Spread the stories over a series if you are capable of such a vast vision. Give readers one or two characters to focus on at a time. Your work will be deeper and the reader will identify with the focus characters. As you progress in your craft, you may be able to delve into an epic setting where we need a character list and a map at the front of the book to keep up with all the players.
- Take a close look at your plot plan. (I hope you at least have a rough outline of what you want to write.)
- Are you trying to write an epic novel when a minimalist plot would be more satisfying?
- Do you have too many plots or characters roaming around in your book?
- Can you keep all the threads woven together to make an engaging and clear story for the reader?
- Would your plot work better in several books to pull the reader into a deeper relationship with your characters?