I’m a fan of the blog Writer Unboxed and when I read on the site that they had a FB community page, I knew I wanted to be part of it. During these past few weeks that I’ve participated in the threads, I’ve discovered several new resources, including The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing: Everything You Need to Know About Creating & Selling Your Work (Writers Digest).
The book covers the basics from crafting a story and using descriptive language to breaking through writer’s block, mastering genres and getting an agent. It also addresses a number of issues that concern fiction writers. You’ll find essays from best-selling authors, including Janet Fitch, Terry Brooks, Sue Grafton, John Updike, Richard Russon, Evan Hunter, and J. A. Jance, and a bunch interviews with others, including Kurt Vonnegut and Margaret Atwood.
I’ve only read the first three chapters, but the first essay by N. M. Kelby described me writing Julius before my “Do-Over.” Whenever someone asked me what my book was about I was unable to give them a straight answer because it included too many things that I couldn’t clearly articulate; the story was too plugged up with ideas and themes that kept clogging its flow.
The point I’m trying to make—and hence the title of this post—is that even though every idea that splashes around in your head might be great, you need to restrain yourself from including them all in your WIP. Stick to one theme, one plot and one subplot. Leave the others for your next book and the one after that.
You might think that sneaking in just another concept will make the story better, but it won’t. It will be frustrating to write, your beta readers will be questioning what story you’re trying to tell, and you’ll keep clogging the drain in that kitchen sink. However, if you insist in adding just one more element, heed these words: remember to keep a plunger and some Drano nearby.