So last week there was this gem of a BBC article about a sheep who was in danger of death from his overgrown fleece. Apparently, he’d escaped in Australia and his fleece had grown so much that he might not survive much longer without a shearing.
After chuckling about this, I considered how this relates to the writing world. (Because anything can relate to the writing world if you think about it enough.)
And I came up with this: Too many novels suffer from an overgrown plot.
It’s true. All too often a writer adds a subplot or a rabbit trail or something that the book doesn’t need. In fact, that something may distract from the point of the novel, and the plot starts to become overshadowed by the distractions. I’ve nothing against subplots, in fact, I like a richly layered novel (some of my favorite books have many subplots, like Kate Morton’s multi-generational books).
But when a subplot begins to overtake your novel, like Chris’s fleece began to threaten his life, then it’s time to reevaluate what your novel is about. Is it about the death of a sheep? (No judgment here) Or is it about the sheep escaping death? The stories are vastly different, and yet the difference between the two could be a matter of a couple of scenes.