I also didn't know sweet potatoes were planted beneath tobacco. I don't know when the seeding occurs, but as the tobacco grows, so do the sweet potatoes. The tobacco is harvested in the fall, and what's left behind is a sparse, unidentifiable vegetation. The unsuspecting haven't a clue the versatile and nutritious sweet potato lies beneath.
|What Lies Beneath?|
Authors, we often have sweet potatoes in our story as well. The first draft with its plot and character motivation are, like the tobacco, the primary crop. We revise it a time or two (or four or more), fixing typos and polishing grammar, tweaking storyline here and there. Once finished, we breath relief and submit it to an agent, editor, or a contest hoping someone will see its brilliance.
But there may be something lying beneath the obvious action, motivation, and characterization. Something deeper that we inexplicably build into the story and often overlook. At times, our subconscious is aware it's there, and forbids us to continue. A short-term writers block can occur, and we blame events in our lives for the drought, not realizing we're missing an important element in the story.
When that happens, grab a spade and start digging. Why did this character react like this when you expected her to do that? What's driving her? Not what you think is driving her, but what, deep in her heart, pushes her forward and causes her to behave contrary to your perceptions? Why did this secondary character suddenly move to the forefront? What is their connection? It's there. Keep digging, even when you hit a rock.
So, you've written a novel, then revised and polished it. It may be perfectly fine as is, and, like tobacco, even addicting......Sorry, I had to include that. But for a richer, deeper story, hunt for the sweet potatoes before you ship it off to market.
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass is a great aid in helping authors dig deep into their stories.