Writer’s Craft # 125 – A whole new villain
Anne E. Johnson celebrates the release of Blue Diamond Delivery, sequel to her humorous, noir-inspired science fiction novel Green Light Delivery from Candlemark & Gleam Publishing. She writes speculative and historical fiction for adults and children, and has had over thirty short stories published in The Future Fire, Shelter of Daylight, Drunk Monkeys, and elsewhere.
When I first wrote Blue Diamond Delivery, one of my beta readers complained about some aspects of the plot. However, he couldn’t articulate what was causing the problem beyond that he didn’t quite buy my main character’s motivation. I puzzled over it, and made some small changes, but I knew I still hadn’t hit the meat of the problem.
A writer with a fantastic editor is a blessed writer, indeed. I sent the novel to Kate Sullivan at Candlemark & Gleam. Among her thousand editorial comments was the observation that all the plot threads were loose. They needed something to hold them together so they all led toward one place.
Seeing it in those terms, I realized just what was missing: I needed a proper villain! And so, in the deepest gut-renovation of a novel I’ve ever attempted, I wrote in an additional major character. The scariest part was making sure this character was connected at every point in the pre-existing plot and sub-plots. But on the whole it was a fascinating thing to try and rewarding to achieve.
What is the biggest, deepest change you’ve ever made to a manuscript that you thought was basically finished?