Monday, February 15, 2010

Balancing Act: Part Three

Belinda here.
Can we already have 3 Mondays in February? It hardly seems possible. But here we are. Week three of balancing certain aspects of our novels.
Previously we've talked about openings and pacing.
Today we're going to talk about balancing elements.

There are several elements to each novel.A main plot, a sub plot, a romantic element, a spiritual element. (I'm talking about a christian romance novel here--there are many other element options depending on what kind of novel you are writing.)

When writing your manuscript each of these elements must be presented, conflicted, and eventually resolved. The tricky part is doing this with seemless moves from one element to another. Another tricky part is making sure you don't go too long without exploring one of your elements.

I've done that before. I've gone several scenes without even thinking about the spiritual element. At one point I went almost 30 pages without having my hero and heroine in the same scene. So, as I'm sure you can guess, the romantic element wasn't progressing at all.


It's hard sometimes as you are writing to keep all your elements in mind. But, I think most of the time, most of the elements are balanced and spaced out naturally. It's a story telling aspect I think a lot of writers instinctively know. That's why you're writers!

If you outline, you probably balance your elements while you're outlining. If you don't plot or use charts, you usually find any problems during the revision process.

So what about you? Do you balance your elements? Have you ever left your characters or a situation hanging? We'd love to hear how you balance your elements.


  1. I'm working on that one as well, Lindi. I did outline my current WIP and wrote my synopsis first this time, which helped me immensely on moving the suspense and storyline along. BUT, I still struggle with adding in the romantic and spiritual elements. (As my wonderful critique partner has pointed out to me- and I agree.)

    A week off school has left me with time to work on my revisions this week (imagine that) so I hope to resolve many of these problems this week.

  2. I am still working on my balancing. Once I have written a good porition of the manuscript, I go back through and note where each element occurred just so I don't go too long without one or the other or forget about it completely.

  3. I use sticky notes on a read-through. pink for the heroine's romantic growth. Blue for the hero's. Some other color for the external plot movement. And I also look for specific things sometimes. Once I had to go through and mark each page where m hero's feeling about his job changed (in Her Unlikely Family). I had to make sure there was a point he realized the heroine was becoming more important than his duty to his family bank.

    I love sticky notes for this! Once I have them all in place. I flip through the mass looking at each one to see how everything progresses. I can't skip from him kind of liking her to loving her suddenly. Or from turning her back on God to all of a sudden praying (unless, of course, that's planned!) :)

  4. Great thoughts! I'm not writing a Christian romance novel, but these are good things to chew on and think about! Thanks for the post!

  5. Dianna,

    Congrats on having the week to keep revising. I know your story is all going to come together.

  6. Amy,
    Good idea checking it out as you go. I do that too, from time to time. I should do it more often though!!

  7. Missy,
    The sticky notes!! They do work, though. I also use highlighters, too. Pink for the heroine, blue for the hero...

  8. Shannon,
    Thanks for coming by. And these balancing tips apply to all novels. Instead of a spiritual element you might have a suspense element, or a paranormal element.

  9. This is the kind of stuff I was looking for today. All day.

    I've noticed that if I focus on only one thread at a time, I do pretty well in seeing where I've dropped it and then fixing it quickly. If I look for too many threads at once, I only get confused.

    Another thing that helps me is to keep a rough outline handy, just to help me remember what's going on, plot-wise, while I'm checking the spiritual thread or the romantic thread or whatever. I hate to outline, but I love to have a finished outline to work with.

  10. I try to balance those things out as I write the outline.

  11. Meg,

    Having the finished outline would be a great way to keep up with what's going on. Somehow it seems easier for me to check it out at the end, you know, when it's a total mess!
    I don't understand myself!

  12. Jenn,
    Another outlining girl! That's okay. I KNOW it's the better way. I KNOW it.
    Maybe someday I'll DO it.