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.