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I'm working on my first novel, which revolves around revenge and violent cycles of human nature for more than 1.5 years. While working on some sections of the book, I feel like how do I add more depth to various issues related to violence that adds a level of depth in the protagonist's characterization. Because sometimes, I feel like the story is bland in some sections and feels incomplete or too basic. As this is my first novel, I'm having a hard time getting the story and characters right; it's kind of a nightmare.

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    Hi user45170, welcome to Writing SE! Is your question about the "how" of adding social themes, or "what" social themes to add? – Alexander Jul 20 '20 at 18:24
  • Hey Alexander, i want that 'how' can I add social themes that creates more immersion. – Ishan2077 Jul 20 '20 at 18:26
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I propose a two-pronged approach.

The first prong is research. To understand what makes your characters tick, research what violence does to real-life people. You haven't specified what sort of violence you write about, but let's take domestic abuse as an example. You could read scientific literature on the subject, talk to survivors (if they're willing), or perhaps find a support group on the internet.

The book is hardly comprehensive on the subject of how experiencing violence shapes people (there's probably not enough paper in the world), but as an introduction and useful point of reference I can recommend The Emotional Wound Thesaurus.

The second prong is to have an honest conversation with your characters. You've been writing for well over a year. I imagine you know the events of your plot by heart, and also where character actions feel contrived and emotions fake. Print your work and highlight the suspect bits, then ask your characters why they acted or felt the way they did.

You'll likely learn something about their backstory you didn't know yet. Why did the girl not run away from her abusive boyfriend? Maybe when she grew up, her father was exactly like him and she doesn't know any better relationships aren't supposed to be like that. Or perhaps your character snaps back at you. No, I did run away. You must have misheard when writing the first draft.

Either way, depending on the answer you can correct the story by adding in relevant backstory or by changing the flow of events.

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How you add more depth to various issues related to violence that adds a level of depth in the protagonist's characterization depends first on re-phrasing passages like that.

"How you add more depth to… what adds a level of depth" is through clarification or simplification, not any special technique.

If your story is bland in some sections and feels incomplete or too basic, embellish those sections…

Whether your priority is embellishing those sections, or writing the other sections, isn't even about writing; it's purely a matter of working practice.

Please accept, this being your first novel is not why you're having a hard time getting the story or characters right.

When you're having a hard time getting the story right, where does it go wrong and what has that to do with your writing skills?

When you're having a hard time getting the characters right, where do they go wrong? How is that different from the way characters are presented by your own four or five most-respected authors?

(Can you explain what difference it might make that you're working on my first novel, or one which revolves around revenge and violent cycles of human nature for any given time or - come to that - which sections of your book you're working on?)

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  • Hey mate! Thanks for your reply. I'm still working on the story after multiple rewrites. I want to make sure that I try to make the story and characters more interesting. But, after getting reviewed some 10-15 chapters, people say that characters are not that strong in some sections while dominating in others. There's mix and match kinda thing. – Ishan2077 Jul 25 '20 at 19:59
  • Well, Mate, doesn't "after getting reviewed some 10-15 chapters, people say that characters are not that strong in some sections while dominating in others…" emphasize exactly what I said? Wouldn't it still do that, even if it worked in English? – Robbie Goodwin Jul 25 '20 at 20:06
  • After reading multiple times, I feel like sometimes the story becomes too predictable, that's just me. so I get bit nervous, so I'm not able to flesh out characters that well. There's always a tension surrounding whether I'll get this right, will people like it, what will be their opinion or what will they get bored out. These things haunt me so sometimes I'm not better at writing all the time. – Ishan2077 Jul 25 '20 at 20:12
  • This is no place for discussion. Still, if it's "just you" that sometimes the story becomes too predictable, how could that matter. "Just you" or not? How could anyone address your degree of confidence - or skill - but by suggesting if you're not able to flesh out characters well enough for you then bluntly, either practice or give up. Why not ask other people whether they think your writing works? – Robbie Goodwin Jul 25 '20 at 21:56

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