|My original idea of Stepdad's character was a bit of a caricature.|
I've made two dozen plot cards and have been playing around with them. Already, I can see a problem.
I have several, mutually incompatible ideas for the first third of the book. Different variations on the set-up, with different roles for the supporting cast, in this case the stepfather and two guys tentatively named Laurde and Darke.
Originally, my hero Brandon was going to be living with his evil but stupid white trash Stepdad and dumb brutish stepbrothers, Laurde and Darke.
I wrote a couple seed scenes/set pieces with them, and things started going in a different direction. My original idea was rife with cliche, which I realized as soon as I tried to bring it to life. It's one thing to retell a fairytale; that archetypal. It's another to use hackneyed tropes; that's stereotypical.
Real relationships are seldom all negative or all positive. It would be better to make Laurde and Darke friends than stepbrothers...when they betray Brandon, it's all the worse. His stepfather is a mean guy, but all the more reason to introduce him on a conciliatory note. The reader, like Brandon, can be skeptical but hopeful that the reconciliation will work, and the outcome won't be telegraphed right from the start.
This idea in turn sparked all sorts of possible plot paths and scintillating scenes... which was fantastic... except that I realized most of this was all bulking up the first third of the novel. The middle, which should be longer, was instead, quite sparse. It's not that I couldn't fill it with plotlines once I get there, just the opposite. If I let myself go crazy with all the complications I wanted to introduce in Act I, Act II and III were going to have to be much longer than my outline calls for.
I need to keep working the cards around to see if some of these delightful wrinkles can be made to work in Act II....