I’m almost done with the Breakout Novel Workbook. Only seven exercises left to go, which I might be able to knock out by the end of next week, assuming I double-up some days.
Even as I enter the last part of the book, the novel keeps changing. One of the last exercises was on marking changes in how the characters see each other, which pushed me to ask why Character X comes to see Character Y favorably, which led me to alter a scene so those two characters were in it (instead of the original two), which opened up new connections I hadn’t seen before between events very early in the book and the arrival of Character X, which led to…a whole cascade of changes.
All good changes, I think. The workbook emphasizes connections – between characters, between actions, between subplots – and each change is making the parts of the book more connected. With each change, it’s almost like I can feel the various plot threads pulling together, tightening up.
And I need that tautness, that tension. I want this story to be so tight it hums.
I’m even starting to see where the lessons of the workbook can be applied to the short stories I’ve been shopping around. Ways to make their stories more personal, more powerful. Once I finish the workbook, I might practice some of those techniques on the short stories before tackling the novel. None of the stories have sold, so it can’t hurt, right?