My first finished manuscript, Mandy’s story, was not good. It had a lot of things that didn’t progress the story. It was just too much backstory and not enough “meat.” I have already cut a lot of that out and I have been editing to do better. I think the story is one that should be told, but the writing could be a lot better.
So along the way writing book 2 (Becca’s Story) and book 3 (Premedicated Murder), I have learned a lot of lessons. I still had some telling and random things in PM but it got better. I believe I have corrected most of the random/not progressing the story things.
However, I do feel that there are times you need to “see” scenes that are just random character development that doesn’t exactly move the story forward, but gives you a picture of who these characters are.
My favorite books, shows and movies have great character development. For example, the Office, one of my all time favorites. The character development is excellent. As the seasons tick by, the Michael character goes from this goofy person who just appears to care about what people think about him to this caring person who is a little more serious. Don’t get me wrong the essence of goofy Michael Scott is still there through the seasons he is a part of, but his dialogue gets better, his attitude towards the work changes a bit and his relationships with the employees is stronger. Creed is another that appears a background characters in the beginning but quickly steals your heart with his random lines like “I’ve been involved in a number of cult both as a leader and a follower.” This happens to be one of my favorite Creed quotes.
Sometimes people meet up for coffee and talk about the weather, favorite movies or an experience they had at the grocery store. That’s life. I like to put those little things in my stories because it makes it real.
“It felt good to be home and doing normal, everyday type of things. I cut up my vegetables, drizzled with olive oil and then sprinkled with salt and pepper. Then placed them in a warmed oven to roast. Next the salmon went into a screaming hot pan to cook.” – Premedicated Murder
My character is just cooking herself some dinner. It is just this little blurb and she goes right back to moving the story along, but those few lines tell you a little about Joanna. She loves cooking and has simple tastes.
She has another day where she spends time with her sister and her nephews. Relationship building and the sisters do talk about the main plot of the story, but I had to have this “real moment” because in real life people spend time with their friends and family.
With that said, most of my writing will progress the story but small parts might just be character development. If it doesn’t fit those two things, it doesn’t belong in my stories and I will be working hard to take those out of the stories I have already finished or not include from the beginning for new stories.