Finally, I’ve reached the final chapters of my novel, a psychological thriller set in the English countryside.   In a previous posts, I mentioned a phrase that some creative writing tutors use rather a lot: “murdering your darlings.”  The logic behind it is this:  a story, particularly a novel or novella, develops  over time and sometimes the original ideas and arguments end  up clashing with the new direction of the story – therefore, the writer should consider cutting these old problematic sections to allow the story plot to develop.  However, most writers don’t want to cut sections of writing they’re particularly proud of.  The sections have become their “darlings”.  Yet, it is these “darling” sections that could be holding the story back.

As I stated in an earlier post, I tended to pump up the fear factor at first.  This, of course, had the opposite effect, removing any traces of subtlety from the story and creating scenes that weren’t frightening at all because most people wouldn’t find those scenes convincing.    In the last two rewrites of the novel, I’ve had to remove all aspects of madness in the viewpoint of the male character and concentrate instead on a simpler, more logical plot structure.

In most crime/thriller fiction, plot is character led.   Two of the best questions to ask about a main character are – 1) what do they fear most? and 2) what do they want most?   These driving forces propel the story forward and determine the various plot possibilities.


2 thoughts on “A Simpler Plot: The Rewrite

  1. Hi, Lawrence,

    I really like the part about “murdering your darlings”. I’m about half-way through the re-writes for my novel, and the blood is flowing, because like you, I’ve had some plot changes during the re-writes. I’ve had to totally re-work scenes that I loved and completely ax two more. *sigh*

    The good news is that I feel like the novel is tighter now and the characters are coming through a lot clearer.

    I’m glad you mentioned this! It makes me feel better. 😉


  2. Thanks for commenting, Teresa. It’s always hard to tell exactly which scenes should go or stay. All the best with your novel.



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