When I plotted out my book, I knew everything that was going to happen in it from beginning to end, even the stupid saggy middle. But when I finished the first draft, it ended up being far shorter than I intended it to be. That’s when I realized, things were ENTIRELY too easy for my characters.
I had to sit down and look at the MS, then look at my outline, then back at my MS to decide WHY it was too easy. What did I need to change to not only ramp up the tension, but to make it more exciting to read? I mean who wants to read a thriller where the MCs make it to the end with nothing bad happening?
I mean sure, there where obstacles, but nothing that really made me go, “Oh no! How are they going to get out of that one?!” Whenever I get stuck I go talk to The Husband. But this time, when I went to talk to him, he was in the middle of playing a video game and I had to wait until he got to a save point. But while I was waiting I was watching him play and I realized the solution to my problem. I needed to treat my book like a video game.
In a video game, the minute you solve one problem, you get another heaped onto your back. And sometimes it’s more than one. Maybe more than two! And the player is cursing and punching buttons like mad to get out of the latest obstacle, only to have a worse one come at them. It’s a never-ending complication fest.
So I went through each chapter and said, “If this were a video game, what would happen next?”
And it worked! By the time I had finished the 2nd draft, I had added almost 20,000 words. And while I still had some boring parts that needed to be cut, it was a heck of a lot more interesting to read.