on Writers in the Storm blog:
A shallow scene keeps readers from diving into the story.
Years ago, when I was editing my debut novel for my agent, I struggled to fix a few weak areas in the beginning. I kept looking at ways to make it more.
More exciting. More tense. More mysterious.
But it kept getting less interesting.
After a few back and forths with ideas and outlines, my agent and I got on the phone to hash out directions to go. I suggested even more “more” ideas, then she stopped and dropped the best advice she ever gave me.
“Don’t go wider—go deeper.”
My problem was, I kept trying to add “stuff” to the story when the story was working overall. It was just a few scenes here and there that needed tweaking. Adding things that didn’t support what I’d already written didn’t work.
It wasn’t until I started drilling down into my themes, my premise, and my scenes that I found the right path to take to fix my “needs a little work” beginning. That path led to a three-book deal with Harper Collins, so I’m glad I listened.