After last night’s “bigger is better” spiel, the hopeful prospect of expanding my WIP outwards instead of cutting it back so that I can include more things, this (somewhat edited) draft from February is almost too timely. Balance in all things, folks.
And I didn’t even have to touch a brick wall.
I’ve been looking at the notes I made of this current revision, which I should be doing on principle instead of as a way to distract me from following through with my character-arc note-making plans, but whatever – I’m noticing something about them: while they certainly do hint at the need to increase focus on what’s essential to the story, it also feels like they’re talking about expanding on certain ideas in a very vague, directionless sense. Expansion is all well and good (and delicious), but to where, exactly? In what direction?
The idea of ‘fleshing out’ an idea is a fairly common one, and it’s an important observation to be able to make – if there’s an interesting idea that makes you want to know more about it and is then never followed-up on, then it’s either too interesting for its intended purpose or not fleshed-out enough. For instance: the elemental magic of the Moroi in Vampire Academy. There’s some exploration of Spirit in the first book and the ideological, diegetic role that magic in general plays in Frostbite, but the elemental magic specifically feels, for lack of a better term, tacked-on. It’s the part of the story that feels the least ‘fleshed-out’, and if I only ever read those first two books (which is unlikely, as the third one is on its way to me via Book Depository) then I’ll be left with that sense of unsatisfied curiosity, a part of the story that I was never quite able to invest myself in.
Or like with Frozen, a film I feel is pretty progressive for a Disney animated feature, which isn’t saying much. I wish they’d expanded more on Hans, the relationship between Elsa and Anna, and just Elsa in general.
But what does any of that mean?
It’s one thing to flesh something out to explore all of its possibilities; take the example of Superman: we don’t need to know how he’s so strong, but it is a valid question, and it’s led to the expansion of what he’s able to do with his powers over the course of his extremely long-running series. Though at the same time, making ‘fleshing out’ of things like magic and supernatural powers is part of why superheroes can feel a bit removed from the world that birthed them, because the problems they’re dealing with just aren’t that relatable to us non-superpowered folk who don’t have to deal with Darkseid or Galactus on a regular basis.
Nonetheless, that’s no excuse to leave a trail of breadcrumbs when all you needed was a roadsign. It needs to mean something to the story being told.
And it’s made me realise that instead of looking at what I need to flesh out, I need to look at what where to focus in.
This doesn’t mean giving certain characters bigger parts; it means putting their parts closer to the main action – have them all driving in the same lane, rather than just in the same city. It may actually result in them having smaller parts, but parts that end up being more important to the story and help to tell it better because they’re directed better. All sub-plots should lead back to the main plot, basically.
And the main plot, Tallulah’s character-arc, is the one arc I totally forgot to include. I just took it for granted that I didn’t need to look at it, and now I realise that, if I don’t know her arc and what might need to be done with it, none of this other stuff matters at all.
So I’m looking through the notes, trying to find it. I may well end up just reading the whole thing over again. Which wouldn’t be so bad. I’m already looking at the notes, so I mean why not. And it’s a nice day. I could take my hard copy outside and read it in the sun.
That sounds pretty good actually.
I’m getting there. I’m feeling it now. Full speed ahead.