I always panic at the beginning of a book because I look at it and think, There’s just no there here. (I also panic in the middle and at the end, but for different reasons.) It’s just a story about a Girl who isn’t even My Girl yet, and stuff happens but it’s just . . . stuff. There’s no depth, no layering, it’s all surface.
Well, yeah, that’s because it’s the beginning.
I know this but I still panic because I can’t imagine it will ever be more. And then I start to imagine, and more characters show up, and the story gets more complex, and the antagonist emerges as a character, probably still a caricature but with the potential to be fully rounded, and then I panic because the story is so much bigger than I thought.
Sometimes I think the key to writng stories is finding the sweet spot between “no there here” and “so much bigger than I thought.”
But one of the good things about “so much bigger” is that I have all this extra stuff to draw on for the opening rewrite. Characters are a lot more interesting because they’re so screwed in so many different ways in the plot. Most of the major characters are way over their baggage limit and paying the price. My protagonist gets more agency because she has to act since all these other people are running about screaming that the sky is falling. I’m spinning a lot more plates, but I’m not boring any more. Confusing yes, boring no.
Take, for example, the number of characters:
I think the increase is just due to worldbuilding, but that’s still a lot of characters with no end in sight.
And then there’s PoV. I intended only two, Nita and Nick. But more and more I think Button needs a PoV, just so we have an outsider/human look at what’s happening. I’d say “normal human,” but it’s Button, so no. And originally I’d thought Button and Mort would Pair the Spares, but I’ve changed my mind on that. They just weren’t very interesting together, which was odd because they were interesting (to me) apart. But that’s okay because Max and Sequins have entered the fray.
Yeah, that’s too much story. Fortunately, that’s an easy problem to fix. It’s always easier to cut than add. Swing wide in the first draft, cut later. That’s the ticket.