Within reason, novel readers enjoy extravagance. After all, novels must be novel, meaning lavish but not excessive, offering abundance without melodrama. Without emptying your bank account with out-of-season fruit and always out-of-season jewelry, how might you accomplish this?
Does yours magnetize? Do you embody an idea into a concrete place like Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad? Instead of just courtroom drama, do you reinforce spiritual questions with Biblical references as Jean Hand Korelize does in The Sabbathday River? Is there more you can do with your Concept, or your original, haunting, and compact design?
~ Larger than life Characters.
You don’t need a heroic, gorgeous, wealthy, or powerful protagonist. Great characters, like Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman in The Death of a Salesman, remain memorable. Are yours?
Whether ironic, humorous, lyrical, or idiosyncratic, is something about your voice lush? Consider what that word symbolizes and rhymes with. Character clothing might be plush, and even slush can beckon when flavored rather than coating sidewalks. Experiment with poetic techniques until sighing all the way, you must cut, cut, cut. But you can’t cut what you never composed.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” (Star Wars), “a dark and stormy night” was vivid. Not anymore, and readers still expect a sense of place. As John Gardner puts it The Art of Fiction, the writer
must shape simultaneously (in an expanding creative moment) his characters, plot, and setting, each inextricably connected to the others; he must make his whole orld in a single, coherent gesture, as a potter makes a pot...”
Setting isn’t backdrop; it’s part of the whole, and no cliche can create a landscape that feels palpable. There’s more than one path to that vividness. Here’s the terrain in Ursula K. LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness:
All brightness was gone, leaving nothing. We stepped out of the tent onto nothing. Sledge and tent were there, Estraven stood beside me, but neither he nor I cast any shadow. There was dull light all around, everywhere. When we walked on the crisp snow no shadow showed the footprint. We left no track. Sledge, tent, himself, myself: nothing else at all. No sun, no sky, no horizon, no world.
From the start, fiction has been a vehicle for the best in human nature. Include in your characters’ yearning a passion to fix or at least improve the broken world.
Tip: Treat your readers to the extravagance that fiction can provide.