Longer Books Through Better Planning

Anodyne-cover-2015Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Twitterific writing links a couple weeks back led me to Ryan Lanz writing about stretching your word count.

In a moment of weakness, worried that Anodyne is too short, I followed it.

Expecting smarmy tricks, I found solid advice, which if implemented properly and with good motives is, what’s the phrase I’m looking for . . . oh yes; Good Stuff.

The 5 stretches listed by Lanz:

  1. Explore Backstory
  2. Slow Down the Pacing
  3. Develop Your Characters
  4. Write a Subplot
  5. Make Things Complicated

Balance and good judgment are required. Backstory can add to the front story when used judiciously, but it can bog down the reading experience if it’s ladled on thick. Pacing should be driven by the story, not by word count, but for those of us who write really fast, spending some time pondering a breather here and there in the nonstop chase scene of a book we’re writing won’t hurt none. Character development is good as well, as long as it’s development and not rumination for the sake of shoegazing.

Subplots. Ah, subplots. Anodyne finally has two subplots, linked to each other and feeding into the main plot. Subplots are my secret weapon. I didn’t say I was very good or at all consistent at wielding said weapon, just that I’m aware of it.

Complication should be part of every novel. Conflict should escalate, at whatever level that means for your genre.

Here’s How


That’s right: good planning allows you to introduce supporting subplots, escalating complications, character depth, interesting backstory, and modulated pacing.

My next book, either the third in the Fog series or the second Phil Brennan mystery, will benefit from even greater planning, adding healthy doses of all five points.

Oh, and as a nice side effect, it’ll give my fans a slightly longer book to read, too.

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