Megan Short | Romantic Suspense Author

Megan Short writes multicultural romantic suspense with dark, brooding heroes and independent, feisty heroines.

Introspective reverse engineering

My current WIP is a novel rewrite with some specific goals in mind. The primary issue to fix is a distinct lack of introspection. This has completely thrown out the pacing which unfortunately means the suspense is not as, well, suspenseful as it might be.

The problem I have, as a screenwriter, is this: character introspection is something to avoid at all costs. There is nothing worse than a character launching into a Hamlet-esque monologue mid-scene! But in this rewrite, I need to reintroduce all of those moments first readers furiously marked “save it for your novel” in the margins. Easier said that done.

How do I introduce introspection without it feeling forced? As I have written many times previously, returning to character is often a great way to get yourself out of most literary binds.

Finding myself out of my depth, I turned to the Character Builder tool to discover what’s missing. It has been surprisingly good. I should not be surprised, given how helpful Angela and Becca’s thesauruses have been for me over the years. But using the Character Builder tool has given me fresh insight into characters I have been working with for an embarrassingly long time.

Part of the process has been validation — understanding why certain elements work. I have also managed to finally pin down the primary positive and negative traits of each character, including minor characters. This means that when I rewrite, introspection will be character-specific and will only serve the story.

If you don’t want to invest in a subscription to the website tools, this is an exercise you can do manually using free tools like Jessica Morrell’s Character Dossier or the Reedsy Character Profile (which includes links to additional tools).