A Lack of Layers

If there’s one thing most readers notice about fantasy novels, it’s that there’s a lot going on.

Multiple story lines.  Intricate subplots that tie in to the main plot in unexpected ways.  Detours to follow side characters.  Details that seem unimportant but reappear with earth-shattering consequences three books later.  Rules for magic, for governing, for courtship.  Many (sometimes many, many) people to keep track of, relationships to remember, places and faces and societies and who was that again?

Some authors even give us a character list (Jacqueline Carey) or glossary (Robert Jordan) to help when we’re confused, because there is so much going on.

This is a problem that I’m trying to address with Mara’s story (and, by extension, Gretchen’s story and Andi’s story).  The original Butterflies tried to cover too much, too quickly, so I’m dismantling it and making it a series.  I would like to give each of the three girls a separate story, at least until their lives intertwine and the stories coalesce.  There is enough in each life to make it worth the effort, but I’m finding that  now I’m going to simple.  If all we’re doing is following one character as she grows up, where’s the complexity?  Where’s that layered look fantasy readers are used to seeing?

I don’t want to use existing parallel subplots, because they will seem unrelated until the stories come together in a later book.  Perhaps what I need to do is find some side characters from the early lives of the girls, so we can have some subplots that resolve within each tale.

Great, Leigh, make this very challenging process of rewriting even more complicated than it already was.  Nicely done.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. deshipley
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 21:51:15

    That last sentence sums up so much of my writing experience. X) I both love and love to hate how quickly a writing project can escalate.

    Reply

  2. butimbeautiful
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 22:00:05

    God, that would be hard – to weave layers into a book that started out without them. Maybe if you weave layers into the heroine’s character instead! Best of luck!

    Reply

    • Leigh Townsend
      Jul 30, 2013 @ 20:34:46

      Thanks! Fortunately the whole book isn’t done – I’m taking what was a small part of a big story and expanding it, so there is plenty of room to add some new people. But you are right, it’s not an easy task.

      Reply

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