I haven’t exactly been stuck on the book I’m working on, but I have been dissatisfied with how things have gone after the first big turning point. My heroine has crossed the threshold into the world of the story, to use Joseph Campbell terms, but the new world wasn’t quite clicking for me. I realized that while I’d developed the place the heroine was from, her ordinary world, quite thoroughly, and I had the external trappings of the place where the story takes place, I hadn’t dug into it enough to figure out how it worked and what the people in that place would be like.
So, it was back to the drawing board to figure out the specifics. That led me to really figure out the villain, what he’s up to, and why. Then that made me figure out the structure around him — who’s in his family, who are his allies? That gave me a new character, essentially giving a soul and identity to a character who was basically an extra, little more than human scenery.
And then further digging into things gave me another new character who I think is going to be what I needed to spark this part of the book. My problem was that I had a mostly offstage villain. He shows up enough to suggest that he’s going to be trouble, but there’s nothing the heroine can do about him without making a big stand that will upset the order of things. She’ll probably end up doing that in the climax of the book, but for most of the book there was no specific person who served as a true antagonist on her level. But then this round of digging gave me a henchman who’s a peer of the heroine and who’ll be around her on a daily basis. He’s not in direct opposition to her yet because he doesn’t really see her as a threat, but his presence means she has to be very careful about what she’s doing, and he’s a representative of the offstage villain who will be present in most scenes..
And now I have to replot the book because it’s going in a different direction than I initially planned, but it’s for the better.
I think I also need to do a bit more character work. One of my challenges is that there’s a group of about twenty people, and I’ve been treating about half of them like extras, but I really need to create characters for each of these people. I may go back and cut the number down. That might make it a little easier so I’m not juggling so many people.