I recently read a very good article about how a slow or wimpy plot can be greatly improved by shoring up the main character or characters. Adding to their complexity adds more motivation to do whatever it is you want them to do or where you want them to end up. (And, yes, it’s now considered okay to end sentences with prepositions, especially if doing otherwise would sound too contrived .)
The beauty of writing – fiction writing – is that you control and manipulate the reality in your story. Why confine yourself to what is basically a one-dimensional character when you can add so much richness to their mental and emotional states, which, in turn, can lead to all sorts of interesting predicaments and conflicts which, in their turn, drive the plot forward (we certainly hope it doesn’t go backward!).
So instead of simply designing a blood-sucking alien, for example, that goes around the world sampling different cultures, so to speak, give it/him/her an anal-retentive personality based on its upbringing in the community nursery where its dreams of being the alien equivalent of a prom queen – or maybe porn queen would be more interesting – are squashed by a bipedal alien slaver who captures and carries away to the stars its love interest. Ever since then, he/she/it has been searching for the lost love. And then he/she/it finds Earth!!
Get the picture?
I’ve started writing a novel in the murder mystery genre but I’m kind of stuck on whom to pin the murder on. I mean, I’ve got a whole slew of characters at this wilderness party camp resort, but no butler, and you know how murders are always being pinned on “the butler.” The closest thing I have to a butler is a maid – sort of. Even though her job title is environmental straightener-outer, she does maid-type work, such as cleaning up “accidents” on the grounds (this is a party camp) and fluffing up guests’ sleeping bags (the sleeping bags are in the economy tents) and stuff like that.
The only problem with making her the murderer is that I’ve already cast her in the role of the murder victim. She’s so perfect as the victim that I really don’t want to change that. I don’t think she can be both murderer and murder victim at the same time, do you?
Dear Wilderness Survivor,
I agree: it would be a little difficult casting your “maid” in both roles. Quite a thorny little problem you’ve thrown at me.
But wait! I just had a brain flash!! (That’s “flash” not “fart.”) You can actually do it that way, kind of. Just cast her as a suicide who makes her death look like a murder. Now that would be a great twist on the usual plot of making a murder look like a suicide. There’s already far too many stories with that particular angle.
All you have to do is find the right character to pin the alleged murder on. Since you say you have “a whole slew of characters,” that shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe one of the others, say the cook, if you have one, has been messing around with her behind his wife’s back but got tired of her. This way, not only could the maid satisfy her “I can’t live without him” feelings, but also get back at him for doing that to her. You could even “spice” up (picture finger down throat here) the cook’s background with secret cannibalism desires that the maid finds out about. Now that could lead to some exciting scenes.
Wow, am I good or what?!!