by Shelt Garner
I’ve mapped out the addition of about 20,000 additional words to the third draft of my first novel, but there’s a big problem — not a lot goes on. The point of all these additional words is not so much to add to the action, but, rather to flesh out the novel’s characters and the world they inhabit.
I’m going well out of my way to have an outsider who is meant to be a proxy for the audience come into the world of the novel and give them some sense of what they might think of the situation. That was one of the complaints of those few beta readers who have given me input to date — too much of the story was obviously in my mind, rather than on the page.
But that’s just the beginning.
As part of my efforts to flesh out my heroine, I have taken a risky new direction that the women in the reading audience will either despise or love. I have decided to, in a Barry-type way, to bifurcate my heroine’s life so she is involved in two dramatically different endeavors. On one hand, my heroine is a journalist and on the other she is…the owner of a strip club.
This is all very risky.
You could make the case that doing this is yet another example of a smelly CIS white male obsessed with boobs who doesn’t know anything about women or you could say that I’m creating a compelling character like Lisbeth Salander. And because I’m doing all of this in a vacuum, I just have no idea of what the reaction to this new path might be.
But the key thing is that adding the stripper angle to the story allows me to keep readers engaged while not a lot goes on in the story. The hope is that readers will be so distracted by the bonkers idea of stripping that they won’t notice that I’m slowly and methodically working towards something happening.
At the moment, I just don’t know. I’m a loss to determine if this is a stroke of genius on my part, or I’m being very misguided. If nothing else, I know the situation I’ve come up with is unique and compelling. But given how touchy the woke cancel culture mob is about sex — and especially men writing from a female POV — I’m rather skittish.
But, only time will tell, I suppose.