"It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away". Antoine de Saint Exupéry
I'm learning that simple is complicated. While the phrase "Keep it Simple, Stupid", usually refers to using the fewest amount of words to say what must be said, I think it can also be applied to plotting. A plot that's too complicated is like a tiny planet overgrown with baobabs-- you can't see the planet through the trees.
The novel I'm currently querying, EVANGELINE, has a pretty complicated plot. In order to figure out a way for the story to make sense (girl goes back in time, why? How?) things got, well, a little complicated. I applaud my betas for being able to follow it, really. And it's definitely the one thing I wish was easy to revise, but it's too, ya know, complicated to change without creating a paradox in the space-time continuum and destroying life as we know it. You wouldn't want me to do that, would you?
My WiP "As Yet Untitled/Mara's Story" has a fairly simple plot. Maybe simple is the wrong word, but far more straightforward than EVANGELINE. Sure, there are paranormal elements, but it's really a murder mystery. And so, while the plot should definitely have twists and red herrings and there should (obviously) be some major obstacles for the heroine to overcome, the story should stay pretty simple.
Or at least, that's what I keep telling myself.
Simple is hard for me, the queen of complicated plots. I used to think that complicated = original. How can a work be derivative if it's this complicated? I've learned a lot about writing in the past few years, enough to know that original ideas can be simple, too, and that a few plot twists don't disguise the fact that a story is really just another star-crossed lovers trope. (please don't blame me for the hours you waste after clicking this link)
Not that there's anything wrong with that, either. As I wrote in a post last week, the same old stories can always be updated for the current generation.
But my WiP doesn't need any of that. I know who-dunnit, and I'm slowly figuring out what that means for the heroine. I just need to follow my scene goals and keep myself from needlessly complicating things.
Anyone else have this problem? I'd love to hear about how others deal with keeping their little planets baobab free, er, I mean, keeping their plots from getting too complicated. ;)