Adding some spice to my novel's stew.

I know I mentioned that this is something I personally need to figure out, but there is nothing wrong with getting some bit of advice that can help.

I am making a dish or in my case a stew of my novel. The stew seems bland to me, and I want to give it some flavor by adding some spice that isn’t too much.

Right now, my novel’s stew is pretty much three siblings searching for answers on who murdered their parents and severely injured them.

The siblings were in a terrible car crash that claimed their parents’ lives but left them on the shallow edge of death. The siblings survived but they are now Machina (Mage-Machina to be exact) and have to deal with being in bodies that aren’t their own anymore regardless of how human it is.

There is scandal, treachery, drama, advanced magical technology, politics, and mystery that will be involved.

I feel like there is still some more lacking for this stew and I am unsure of which spice to put into.

I don’t want to add too much spice that takes away from the stew’s flavor and ruin the meaty goodness.

In other words, I rather not add nonsense that can harm the story’s plot and development. Just a little extra something that can give the story some good quality flavor.

What do you think?
I shall return with more input.

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You need mini arcs in there


Of the other characters or something else entirely?
How do I go about doing mini arcs? Forgive me, if that seems like a stupid question.

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Develop your vague ideas of mystery amd treachery further and further


Smaller scale plot threads


So, jot down some more ideas focusing on the mystery and treachery aspect of the story, correct?

Are you saying form little plot points or something that gradually come together?

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A bunch of little plots that combine to make a big plot

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Oh, I see what you mean now.

Yeah, I can form small plot that I can make into one larger plot…somehow. LOL!
Just give me some time and I should have something.

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While your three siblings are searching for answers about who murdered their parents and severely injured them, wouldn’t the guilty party be searching for them? Maybe your villain could be a subplot? ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯

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This is where things start to get weird and probably make no sense. Forgive me for this in advance.
The main villain isn’t the one who murdered the parents and severely injured the siblings. The only thing the “main” villain is doing is causing chaos as he strives to murder his sister and her family. Somehow, this villain is unaware of his sister’s death. I’ll have him discover that later in the story.

The parents were killed, and siblings were severely injured by someone who knows the “main” villain and is a member of the Twenty Dynasties. So, the real villain is the person who is working for the supposed “main” villain who never even asked the real villain to kill the sister and her family…at least not yet.

“Main” villain: Pharaoh Lynch.

True villain: Unknown at the moment.


Sounds like you’re thinking too big picture and not enough on the small details. Like, you’re focusing on the abstract concept that, eventually, the mystery of their parents’ death will lead them to facing off with the True Villian, right? Well–how do they get there? Everyone experiences grief in different ways, and not everyone seeks revenge whenever something bad happens to them. Perhaps narrowing down the perspective of how each individual sibling is coping–and what that looks like–will help flesh out more details and make them feel more human. It’s not realistic to suppose each one will want to destroy the True Villian for the same reason. Maybe one is driven by vengeance, maybe one desperately wants and aches for a time of peace and they will to anything to insure that’s possible–even if it means taking down the True Villian, perhaps another actually hates they’re a mage-mechanic now and they despise what the world has turned them into–but they continue to fight the True Villian because the want to protect their siblings.

Different reasons and arcs in which make your siblings feel like real people actually experiencing their trauma seems to be the way to go. It sounds like you have the basis for the Big Idea planned out, now is time to focus on the little details, the arcs each of your characters go through, and how their lives/ideas/philosophies are affected by the plot.

In essence, your siblings are the deliverers of the theme/message you want to tell with your story. So–what do you want to project through them? What ideas do you want readers to connect with?


Therapy sessions: gives you down time, gives you a chance to sound things off an older, mature character who can be a hero to them that can can become cannon fodder for a “senseless death” later, gives you a chance to introduce side quests, is a mini-arc without having to add in the main story line, and can be bonus chapters like the end of some Mangas.


Well, one of the siblings is the Sovereign and hates it because of the fact that he has to replace his mother who was the previous Sovereign. He’ll do the job, but he hasn’t had a proper time to grieve for his parents because he was thrust into the role of Sovereign.

He doesn’t think he is worthy of the title Sovereign and prefer if his mother take back the role, but she is dead.

Far as the other siblings, they aren’t handling things well in their own way neither. So, you are right in regards that I need to focus on how the siblings feel about their parents’ death and the need for answers on things.

I can do that where I ask the characters therapeutic questions and journal down their thoughts and feelings on the matter.

The only mini-arcs I can do are the ones which involve the other important characters in the story. Side quests could be the siblings trying to understand why they were reborn as Mage-Machina and trying to figure out ways to cope with their major change.


I wouldn’t say all stories have this, but you might benefit from having a guiding figure. Someone that guides the siblings. This person could be doing it out of the good of their heart, or with strings attached to gain something on the way or gain something later.

It can be more than one person at a time, or one by one as the story progresses and things happen to the characters. This person that appears can be the following:

  • The person can be the side hero who is quickly caught or killed but come to the rescue later to do more guiding.
  • The person could turn out to be one of the bad guys all along. Not the main villain and possibly easy to beat.
  • The person can have been a bad guy all along, but switched sides after getting to know MC.
  • The person can turn out to be the most important good guy all along that is the one that was going to be the major help to the MC at the end.
  • The person could end up being the main villain the MC is running away from.
  • The person could be a henchman luring MC into a trap or spying on MC for the villain.

(Just to let you know, this isn’t some comprehensive list. I’m just taking it from movies, books, and my own stories.)

There can be multiple of these guiding people at the same time, or one at a time (think the Fellowship in LOTR supporting the Hobbits, Dumbledore in Harry Potter giving wise words, usually an older character or someone with more experience). For my stories, I’ve done one at a time, or two at a time.

For whatever reason, this person is helping the MC on a part of their journey or the entire journey.

I hope I made sense. Do you have questions?


I like the idea of that! I think I had a character that somewhat fit that.
They were the bad guy in reality as they serve the Sovereign.


Sounds good! :grin:

And there’s a few ways that can go.

  • MC is told upfront by the person that the person is on the opposite side but has no choice but to be with the person.
  • MC is not told at all, is made to believe the person is on their side, but at the most crucial moment, it’s revealed that the person was on the opposite side the whole time.
  • MC is not told at all, but is still suspicious of the person. Little by little comes to trust them and then at the crucial moment, it’s revealed the person was the bad guy and the MC’s suspicions were correct.

And I’m sure you can think of other variations of those.

You can also add in moments where it seems like the person might have changed sides and the MC starts trusting the person. Or, MC sees some kind of morality and starts to understand the person and understand why they are doing the bad thing.

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If my memory best serves me, the MC discovered the person who was loyal to them was one of the bad guys.

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