Digging Deeper into a Manuscript

I have recently shifted the focus of my writing. The goal is still the same: to finish my novel by the end of the year but I have changed my approach. Up until now I have pretty much been sitting down and writing and writing and writing. I’ve done minimal planning, organization or reconstruction.

I realize that right now instead of adding pages, what I need to do is dig deeper. I am taking a serious look at all my characters and evaluating their personal traits, motivations, weaknesses, strengths. The idea is to get to know my characters better so they can appear more well rounded on paper.

Every character has goals, both internal and external. And to reach these goals there are conflicts. This is the basis of any story. Right now I am honing in on how to make these goals as clear as possible while creating tension throughout the story.

I am also considering the overall premise of the book. What is the message, or how could I sum it up in one sentence? It isn’t an easy thing to do, but I think it will help guide me into making a cohesive novel.

Finally, I am considering paring down. Initially, I was planning on including all six characters back stories, interwoven with the present day plot line. I am now wondering if this is possible, or if it will distract too much from the central plot.

As of right now my word count is around 85,000 words. From the research I’ve done a manuscript shouldn’t be much more that 100,000. Will I be able to squeeze in all the back stories I want without leaving gaping holes or unanswered questions? Or should I get rid of some (or all) of them and instead focus on one central character, past and present?

I’m not ready to make the decision right now, but I feel like it was important to at least consider the idea. As I move forward, I am focusing more on quality instead of quantity and doing more back work to add depth to the story.