Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not At Nationals - Common Romance Writing Mistakes Pt 15.

Life has been getting in the way somewhat, and this subject has ended up a LOT longer than I'd thought it would, so apologies again for the delay, and for the fact we might end up with a post or two more than I thought we would. A big THANKS to everyone who has commented to say they're finding the Mini-Workshop useful! It makes doing it worthwhile!!! Once we're done I'll run a Q&A for anyone who has questions not covered in the topics, and for anyone who wants to brainstorm something from their manuscript/WIP they're uncertain or worried about. Meanwhile, onwards and upwards...

Missed Part Fourteen of this Mini-Workshop? You can find it here

  • Approaching The Finish Line:

This follows neatly on from the subject of stopping your manuscript before it's finished to move on to the next shiny story that just won't let go in your head. Only this time, we're talking about sending your manuscript away before it can be the best possible story. Yep, we're talking about the EDITING process. The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes says; “Writing a story – any story – can be a fatiguing process if your project has been a complex short story or – harder – a novel, you will probably come to the end of your first, or second draft in a state not only of weariness, but also of a certain amount of anxiety. You want to be done with this arduous task – to have it finished and sent out somewhere, so you can at least relax a bit... and perhaps begin to think of some new project.”

Remember I talked about BLEEDING ON THE PAGE and how some authors are emotionally drained by the end of the book? Well, this is the end result of that. Plus it comes down to what kind of writer you are again. The PANTSTER in me, will go with the flow and write, write, write when the story grows wings, picking up speed as I approach the end, so sometimes I will write through the night while the words are flowing. Over time I've learned that my body can go without sleep for a maximum of thirty-six hours before I start to feel physically sick, but it isn't something I'd recommend. And I do think, over time, that it has contributed to the burn-out I've experienced this year. But even authors who try to stick to a regular timetable or 'office hours' have to balance their real life with their writing and will spend time with their brain locked in the story no matter what else they're doing. Add the emotional ups and downs your characters experience and it's not surprising that by the end of the book, you can be both mentally and physically exhausted. It's yet ANOTHER reason why giving yourself additional worries at the TELL THE STORY part of the process isn't a good idea. In a way it's masochistic. In another pretty pointless. Why pointless?

Well let's take the worries you have about the first three chapters of your book for example, shall we? There was a time when I obsessed about those chapters the same way you do (still do sometimes to be honest!), and it's completely understandable; particularly when those first three chapters are the partial you'll be submitting. We want it to grab the reader – propel her into the story – hook her in so she wants to read the rest of the book. With out a great SET-UP, we are lacking the foundation stone needed to build a strong story. So we obsess about it. When the simple truth is, no matter how much work you've done BEFORE you start the story, there is no way you can know your characters as well as you do by the END of the story. By the end of the story you will know them inside out and upside down. You will know WHY they did the things they did at the start of the story and you can SEE where all those little threads began. Only when the story is FINISHED and you come back to it at the EDITING stage, can you use that new knowledge to help strengthen those opening chapters...

Which brings us to the next point the book makes; “At such a time, when your enthusiasm for your current story is perhaps at an all-time low, and you ache both literally and figuratively, you run the grave risk of stopping a bit too soon – of failing to take one more critical look at what you planned to do, what you've ended up doing, and how well the job was done.”

Not only is this the time when you need to switch from the right brain where you store the skills to TELL THE STORY, to the left brain skills that will EDIT the story, it's also when you need to take a step back so you can see things clearly. You both literally and figuratively have to detach yourself from the manuscript. Just like stepping away from the keyboard when you hit a wall can help to clear your mind and allow you to see the path forwards, leaving your finished manuscript to 'simmer' for a few days can allow you to come back and edit it with fresher eyes. Telling the story might have felt like the hard part – and it's NOT simple - but EDITING is a whole different discipline and that can make it a harder task for some. You have to take everything you've learned about your characters during their journey, put it together with everything you've learned about writing and at the same time keep an eye on the emotional content while emotionally detaching yourself enough to cut what needs to go for the good of the story. And the latter can be the hardest task of all. Because having gone through the process of creativity that brought your story – sometimes kicking and screaming – into the world, we can sometimes become as attached to it as we would to a child we'd given birth to, and as the parent of this new child we can have problems with finding 'fault': A common problem with new writers is that they'll have spent so long trying to make every word perfect during the creative process, they might not be able to see the 'wood' for the 'trees' (something even multi-published authors can struggle with), which is where a CRITIQUE PARTNER can prove invaluable. A CRITIQUE PARTNER didn't give birth to this creation, so they can look at the story the way a reader would and they're working WITH YOU to get the best book possible.

On the flip-side, we can fall into the trap of constant over-editing and never letting go. This when the new writer (and yes, even the published author) can feel that just one more edit is needed. That edit then becomes another edit and another and another; sometimes changing back and forth so they ultimately end up with what they had in the first edit and sometimes removing something that an EDITOR will later ask them to put in! So when is enough a enough? When is it NOT enough? It's the dilemma all writers face, and the only one who can ultimately make that decision is YOU. You have to feel you have submitted the best possible work you could have at this stage of your career...

To this end, The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes says; “No revision checklist can suggest everything you might look at. Your awareness of your personal strengths and weaknesses as a writer, together with some idea of the kind of writer you want to become, will dictate some of the things high on your own checklist.”

I doubt there are many published authors – particularly authors who have been doing this for years and are multi-published – who will write down a check-list to follow at the editing stage. It's true of any job; the longer you do it, the more you will do things instinctively and with a skill borne of practice. But every author, no matter how established, will have a mental checklist of things they are looking for at the EDITING stage of their manuscript. They will have their eye on the things a computer can't do for them. Yes, we have a spell-checker, suggestions for grammar and a word-search to help us zone in on some of the basic things we can tighten up on or improve, but it's worth remembering that those are SMALL things. There's no point obsessing over them. An editor is looking for a well told STORY. The STORY COMES FIRST. So at the EDITING stage of your manuscript you should be looking at the same thing. This is why the very first thing you should do after your break away from the manuscript is to read it from start to finish without stopping. Many authors print off the manuscript at this point, instead of reading it off the screen. I have to admit I don't, but a great many people may be shocked by that. For me it's an eco-friendly thing (at least that's what I tell myself). If I were to print off every manuscript I wrote, even using the other side of a previous manuscript, added together with the paper copies I have of my books from the COPY EDITING department, I would now have a minimum of thirty eight to fifty seven manuscripts sitting around. And that for me is a real storage problem. But again it comes down to personal preference and what works for YOU. Instead of using paper, I have numerous files on my laptop. Because when I'm editing I'll make a copy of the original file and rename it REVISIONS, and I'll often open a third file and name it NOTES. Then anything I delete will go into the notes file in case I need it again, and the original will give me something to check back to if I get lost at any point. But then I'm someone who frequently works with a good half dozen windows open on my computer. As I type I have two office docs, Tweetdeck and seven internet pages on the go...

By reading your manuscript through from start to finish with a more critical eye, you can see if it MAKES SENSE. That, in my opinion, is the foundation stone of fiction. Each scene should flow from the scene before in a logical path the reader can follow while you ask yourself things like – did that happen too soon, is that 'in character', are their actions understandable, is the continuity correct? You can take notes, make notes in the margins or highlight a section with a red pen at this point. But you ARE NOT going to stop to correct it. Only once you have seen your story through the eyes of a reader will you know if it MAKES SENSE. On the second run, we go to work.

If you've printed off your manuscript, then this is the point where you will open the file on your computer and refer to the notes you made on the paper copy. If you're like me, this is where you'll open the REVISIONS file of the manuscript and bounce back and forth between the two. Fixing these problems first gives you a starting point. You may also run a spell check at this point if you haven't already done so, though it's worth keeping in mind that spell-checker won't recognize certain words as being 'wrong'. 'There' won't be recognized as being the incorrect version of 'their' or 'they're' for example - same with 'where' and 'were'. A grammar check will more than likely find these, but it will also make suggestions that you don't necessarily have to accept; particularly when it comes to dialogue. I'm not saying that correct grammar isn't important and I'm by no means saying a manuscript can't be much improved with the help of a grammar check, but what I am saying is that not everyone will speak in grammatically correct English. We will move words around, abbreviate them, speak 'out of rhythm' – particularly during an emotional outburst – and we want our characters dialogue to sound realistic, don't we? Take a character for whom English is a second language for instance; are they likely to get everything grammatically correct, or might there be times when they say the words in what we would consider to be the wrong order because that is how their native language would arrange the words? Will a small child use perfectly correct grammar? A teenager? It all comes back to the CHARACTERS again, doesn't it? And if we're writing in a characters INNER POV then they will think as they would speak. Having said all that, it IS worth using the spell-check and grammar facilities on your computer, because it's a couple less things to worry about. BUT we have to remember not to sweat the small things that can be corrected by the editing department after we sell.

With the basics done, we will revisit the beginning of the story with a greater knowledge of our characters and how they will think and react in the latter stages of the manuscript. Keeping in mind that we want to grab hold of the reader at this point, we have to ask ourselves a few basic questions. Does it start with an EVENT, that 'live at the scene' report that propels us straight into the action and introduces the viewpoint character to a 'THREAT'? Does that threat give them a GOAL? Did you get straight to it, or did you 'warm up your engines' with a BACK-STORY DUMP or a long passage of introduction that wasn't needed? Did you get the HERO and HEROINE onto the page as soon as possible?

With that in mind, I thought I'd give you a few examples of how I opened a story in my own books. Marriage Lost And Found started with a Prologue and an opening paragraph of; “It was in the gap between Christmas and New Year's, when people started thinking about what the New Year had to hold. About New Year's resolutions to help everything along in the right direction. That was when she made the decision to let go.”

Would you agree that immediately we have a season, a motivation and a goal? Would you agree we now know that it's the HEROINE whose viewpoint we are in? Are we propelled into the action?

From The Wedding Surprise we have; “'How bad is it, Dad, really? I need to know.'”

One line. But do we know there's a threat? Have we been propelled into the action? By asking a question in the opening line, we immediately give the reader an answer to look for and therefore a reason to continue reading. From the answer to this question comes the THREAT, from the threat comes the characters GOAL, that goal then leads to an ACTION which draws us further into the story...

From O'Reilly's Bride we have; “'We're just going to have to face up to the fact that we have no choice but to sleep together.'”

This time it's a statement of fact. But look at how that statement is worded. Is there a question in there the reader would need answered? Would the need to answer that question encourage them to read on? Does it propel the reader directly into the action?

From Rescued: Mother-To-Be we have; “'Welcome home, Eamonn.'”

Would it be safe to say there's a good chance Eamonn is the hero and that this statement is made by the heroine? What questions might the reader have? In this particular book the line has added significance because not only does it open the story, it's also the last line at the end of the story; having an addition depth to the statement that wasn't there before by the time we've taken that emotional journey with the characters...

From Breathless! We have the very simple; “'What can I do for you?'”

Would you agree it propels us into the action with a question? Might the answer to that question lead us to the character/s motivation and their GOAL? Is there are chance the answer will reveal something about the character/s? Does it therefore draw us into the story?

From His Mistress, His Terms we have an even simpler; “'Merrow O'Connell?'”

Another question. This time we're immediately introduced to the HEROINE. The reader is once again given a question to seek an answer to, and this time the question is immediately expanded on the same way it may have been in some of the other examples. Who IS Merrow O'Connell? Why does the person asking want to know? Would the question indicate they may not have met before? Why is this person looking for her? Who IS this person? And we're propelled into the action seeking answers that will lead to our characters motivations...

From Claimed By The Rogue Billionaire we have; “She was back. And Ashling Fitzgerald hadn't changed a bit in eight years, had she?”

Again, I have something that should hopefully spark the readers imagination and draw them into the story. If she was 'back', then Ashling Fitzgerald had obviously been 'away'. The viewpoint character then tells us how long she was gone for. Would it be safe to say the reader might ask why she was gone for so long, where she'd been, why she was back, who it is making this statement? I think we've established that I tend to start my books with some kind of question. It's my way of dealing with it. How did the author deal with it in a book from the line/category you're aiming for? Were there questions asked in the readers mind?

Task Thirty-Seven: Take a look at several romance novels from the line/category you're aiming for and examine how the author propelled you directly into the action with the FIRST LINE and FIRST PAGE. Did you have a clear idea of what was happening? Was it clear whose viewpoint the opening was in? What did the author use to set the scene and introduce the character/s?

At the beginning and as we progress through the story, the next thing to look for is the POV. Is it clear throughout or are there times when it might be confusing for the reader? How did you make that POV clear? How often did you change it during a scene? Are there times when having the POV remain the same throughout a scene would add to the suspense? Remember what we talked about when it came to sprinkling information about the characters and the back-story throughout the book so the reader gets to know them as they get to know each other. There's a fine line between letting the reader in to some of the characters inner secrets and lowering the tension by doing it. By holding some things back, the reader will start to ask questions of their own and make assumptions based on what they already know about the characters as the story progresses. For example, if we know one character is afraid of water or can't swim (as is the case in O'Reilly's Bride), then without having the hero know that we can up the undercurrent in a scene when they are on a boat and the hero thinks there is something wrong with the heroine. Was she emotional because she was afraid of the water? Or was she emotional about something else and uses her fear of water to avoid talking about it? The reader has to WANT TO KNOW what happens next. And one of the best ways to do that is to have them asking questions that the story will then reveal the answers to while leaving yet more questions to be asked and answered. What we have to make clear throughout is WHO is telling us the story at a particular moment in time so that we can see clearly where the misunderstanding happens, when the characters are hiding something from each other, and why they do the things they do and say the things they say.

Then we come to the TIME-LINE. This is a subject we haven't discussed before, because it's something we shouldn't overly-worry about during the phase of TELLING THE STORY. A PLOTTER may well have this down to a 'T' in the planning stages prior to beginning the book, but even a plotter will need to double-check it while EDITING. A chart can be the easiest way to go if you find yourself getting confused but there should always be what The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes calls 'time pointers' throughout the story. They give the reader a sense not only of season, but of the time-frame for the story, and should be peppered throughout. We're not talking about 'dating' the story here, as in a particular decade (though obviously this would be different in a historical romance where set periods of time in history may have a great influence on the plot), but more about making sure the characters time-frames match up for the sake of CONTINUITY. Jane cannot discover something has happened on Friday if John does it the following Sunday. John can't mention being apart from the heroine for a week if Jane sees him three days after their last meeting. It has to MAKE SENSE. I'll admit that the time frame is something I often struggle with from a different direction. Because my stories rely so heavily on ACTION and REACTION (as they should), and because I try to have the hero and heroine on the page together as often as possible (as they should be), there are times when I can suddenly realize the entire story has happened in a matter of days. One Night With The Rebel Billionaire would be an example of this, with the entire story, barring the epilogue, happening in the space of four odd days. This then raises the question of 'Can people fall in love in four days', particularly when they have strong conflicts? The way around it in this book was once again to go back to the characters. The answer was, the heroine felt she could, but as one of the hero's main conflicts was the fact he didn't think he could feel love, he couldn't. So how did I deal with that? I had an epilogue that was eighteen odd months later. The main story showed the emotional journey that brought them to the point where they had overcome their conflicts enough to TRY for a HEA. They'd had their BLACK MOMENT and the RESOLUTION, then the epilogue then brought us back at a later time so we could see how they'd GOT their HEA. Remember it comes down to READER EXPECTATION with the HEA. Even though, in the modern age, there are books that won't end with a marriage proposal, at the VERY LEAST there should be the suggestion there will be or that these two people will be together for the rest of their lives; THAT is the HEA the reader came to the book expecting to find. And let's face it, if an editor isn't happy with the lack of a marriage proposal at the end of a well told story, what is she more likely to do; reject the manuscript or ask for a revision to put one in? When it comes down to it time-frame wise, as is this case so much of the time with everything else, we once again go back to the CHARACTERS. They will tell us how long it takes to overcome their emotional conflicts and therefore give us the time-frame. It's up to the writer to make that time-frame clear to the reader.

Next we move on to the characters MOTIVATION and GOALS? Are they clear? Do they follow on logically as a REACTION to the ACTION? Are they contradictory to the goals they had earlier in the story? If so then what changed their motivation? EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON. When looking at your manuscript with a more critical eye at the EDITING stage, you should be asking yourself that question and looking for the times it doesn't MAKE SENSE so you can fix it. How about those coincidences we wanted to avoid? Did you fall back on a PLOT DEVICE at some point instead of having things happen in a logical manner? Any time something seems to happen out of left field, you have to ask yourself if it happened sheerly for dramatic effect in an attempt to increase the conflict. Because if it did, you then have to ask if it made sense to the reader and if it added to the EMOTIONAL CONFLICT. If it didn't, then we have a problem that needs to be fixed. Remember it's always better to have the character experience something through an ACTION rather than an outside conflict or coincidence. They're not wimps. They DO something to drive the action. And through that action they learn something about each other and themselves that leads to a REACTION, a new GOAL and more ACTION so that the chain of events can continue.

Another place to take a closer look is at the beginning and endings of each chapter and scene. Just as I started my stories (in the examples given) with questions the readers can continue reading to find the answers to, we can use the goal/action/reaction/new goal chain of events to leave our reader with yet more questions which will in turn lead them continuing to turn the page. And this is important not just for the PAGE TURNING QUALITY of your story, but from the (possibly more pressing need for unpublished writers) point of view of encouraging an EDITOR to want to request the full manuscript so they can find out what happens next. Think back to what we talked about in the section dealing with SCENE STRUCTURE and ask yourself if the end of the scene/chapter left the reader with a new twist or realization that keeps them reading, while the next scene/chapter immediately opens with the characters reaction to what happened so they can find the answers and lead themselves to the next twist or realization. Personally I think this is doubly important at the end of a chapter. Because, speaking for myself as a reader, if I'm reading into the wee small hours or when in the bath, I will tell myself just 'one more chapter' and then I'll put the book down. If I find myself reading another chapter after that, then another then another, until I'm either bleary-eyed or wrinkled like a prune or both, then the author has done their job and held my attention; drawing me deeper and deeper into the story until I'm done.

So let's look at the comparisons between chapter openings and endings in the examples I gave you earlier. Marriage Lost And Found started with a Prologue and an opening paragraph of; “It was in the gap between Christmas and New Year's, when people started thinking about what the New Year had to hold. About New Year's resolutions to help everything along in the right direction. That was when she made the decision to let go.”

It ended with; “Her pen moved across the paper in fluid strokes. Suddenly words came, and she was letting the dream go.”

Are we still in the action? Is it clear whose viewpoint we're in? Would you agree the question the reader is left with could be, has she really let go of that dream? The answer might not necessarily be in the next scene, but it WILL be answered as the story progresses.

In The Wedding Surprise we started with; “'How bad is it, Dad, really? I need to know.'”

And ended the chapter with; “And, after all, how bad could this Aiden guy really be?”

Just as we knew there was a threat at the beginning of the chapter, by the end we have a fair idea another one is on it's way. How do we know that? Because we're now taking the question that has been asked and answering it ourselves with 'worse than you might think', which is exactly what the story will go on to tell us. Have we been kept in the action and encouraged to turn the page to find out? How will the reader find out if their assumption about Aiden is true? How will the heroine?Once again, from the answer to this question comes the THREAT, from the threat comes the characters GOAL, that goal then leads to an ACTION which draws us even further into the story...

In O'Reilly's Bride we started with; “'We're just going to have to face up to the fact that we have no choice but to sleep together.'”

And ended the chapter with; “'We still have time, Mary Margaret, don't worry.' His eyes glowed across at her in the soft light. 'Sweet dreams.'”

Another statement. But once again, look at how that statement is worded. Is there a question in there the reader would need answered? Might the reader possibly suspect the characters don't have as much time as the hero has said they have? Would the need to answer that question encourage them to read on? Does it propel the reader directly into the action?

In Rescued: Mother-To-Be we started with; “'Welcome home, Eamonn.'”

And ended the chapter with; “Not half as sorry as Colleen was.”

In this case, we're left wondering just what it is Colleen is sorry about. We have another question, even though it hasn't been worded as a question. The only way to discover the answer to that question? You can see where I'm going here...

It's the same in His Mistress, His Terms where we started with; “'Merrow O'Connell?'”

And ended the chapter with; “'I've run into a bit of a problem with that...'”

Now we need to know WHY it's a problem and how the heroine (who is saying this) is going to deal with it. How she deals with it is her REACTION to what has happened. Her plan to deal with it is her GOAL. Her GOAL leads to the ACTION and so on from scene to scene, chapter to chapter, start to finish.

In Claimed By The Rogue Billionaire we started with; “She was back. And Ashling Fitzgerald hadn't changed a bit in eight years, had she?”

And ended the chapter with; “But she'd never forgotten what happened next...”

As you can see from the examples there are several ways of leaving the reader with a question that needs to be answered. It can literally be a question, it can be a statement of fact that may be proved right or wrong as the story continues, it may simply be a line that leads us to the answer of a question the reader already has from earlier in the scene. But what that question is, in whatever form it may take, it's a reason for the reader to TURN THE PAGE and continue reading. In the case of Claimed By The Rogue Billionaire, the ending to the first chapter actually propels us into a 'flashback' scene where, not only does the reader get the answer to the question, 'What DID happen next?', there is also an opportunity for a little of the back-story that has led the characters to where they are at the start of the book. So while answering the question, more of the characters history and motivations are revealed to the reader; allowing them to understand some of the INNER CONFLICTS and where they come from.

Task Thirty-Eight: Take a look at several romance novels from the line/category you're aiming for and examine how the author propelled you further into the action with the end of a chapter/scene. Did you have a clear idea of what was happening? What did the author do to leave the reader with questions? How did they answer those questions as the story progressed?

Last of all, we'll look at the ending. This is the readers payoff, so we want to take the basic, most important question they had at the beginning of the book and answer it. Will these two characters get their HAPPILY EVER AFTER? As we've said, the reader knows they will from the beginning, before they even opened the cover of the book, but what we should have done during the telling of the story is place doubt in their mind. Then – after the BLACK MOMENT – when their doubt is at an all time high, we reward them for their patience and the EMOTIONAL ROLLER-COASTER we've placed them on, by giving them EXACTLY what they came to the book for. The basic question in a romance novel is 'Will they have a HEA?'. The answer from the writer is a resounding ;YES!'. But what we also have to remember is all those other questions we've asked throughout the story. Have they been answered too? ALL OF THEM? Because every doubt should now be removed from the characters' – and the READERS – mind. When they close the book, there should be no doubt that these two people will stay together for the rest of their lives through thick and thin; their lives enriched by the presence of each other. Just as we needed glimpses of their compatibility and happiness at a few points during the story to believe it was possible, we need to see it in spades at the end. Every fear, hope, doubt and need will be dealt with and the thing that held them back from each other – the INNER CONFLICT – will no longer be there. This is the ONE TIME in the book when your characters will be completely honest and open with each other. It's a HUGE step to take for anyone and involves a giant leap of faith, but what the reader should be left with is a deep and abiding sense of HOPE that a HEA is possible not only beyond the pages of the novel, but to a certain extent in real life too. A romance is a 'FEEL GOOD' experience in the end. It's part of the reason sales increase when times are tough in the real world. So don't skimp on the HEA in the last chapter!

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes creates a checklist of points for the writer to work from at the EDITING stage of the story, in a similar way to how an EDITOR will outline the REVISIONS she would like to improve the story. And I think for the beginner writer this can be quite useful, not just in keeping clear the things they're looking for, but in 'training' themselves to work from a list similar to those revisions. Remember we don't FORGET all these things when we're writing, but when we're at the creative stage it's all about TELLING THE STORY. So when we have a COMPLETED MANUSCRIPT we can come back with our checklist and remind ourselves of what we're looking for and what we might be able to improve on, lessen or even lose to strengthen the story. Only when we're happy with what we've done, is it time to let go. If you have a CRITIQUE PARTNER you can send it to them for a final read through and any final suggestions, but once that's done it's time to SEND IT OUT to a professional.You can of course make your own checklist, but I'll add the book's suggested list for you to look at and you can add your own points to it as needs be;

1/ Take a break when the first draft of your manuscript is complete.

2/ Check the story for acceptability to the line you're aiming for word-count wise so you know how much you need to delete/can add at the EDITING stage.

3/ Read the story from start to finish.

4/ Fix any initial problems you may have found on the read through and run a spell/grammar check on your computer if you haven't already done so.

5/ Take a closer look at the opening of your story and think about how you can tighten it up to propel the reader into the ACTION.

6/ Check the POV the story is in and make sure it's clear to the reader.

7/ Check the time-line/CONTINUITY of your story and any RESEARCH facts you're unsure of.

8/ Examine the characters motivations more closely. Does it MAKE SENSE? Does EVERYTHING HAPPEN FOR A REASON?

9/ Be on the look out for PLOT DEVICES and EXTERNAL CONFLICTS.

10/ Read the chapter/scene endings to make sure the reader is left with a question that will drive them towards the next scene/chapter.

11/ Think about the characters ACTION and REACTION. Does it MAKE SENSE? Does the PLOT make sense? Is there anything in the story that could be removed without effecting the main story? Are there SECONDARY CHARACTERS who are unnecessary or could be on the page for less time?

12/ Look at the ending and make sure that all the questions have been answered in the RESOLUTION and HEA. Was enough time spent convincing the reader the HEA would last beyond the end of the story?

With all done and our manuscript ready to go out into the big, bad world, we then move on to the business end of things, and another checklist...

  • CHECK BACK for more of this 'mini-workshop'. Got questions about anything in the Blog just ask in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them ;)
(You can now Move on to Part Sixteen of this Mini-Workshop here.)


tamelia said...

Hi Trish,
Another great post! I thoroughly understand the right brain/left brain work method. Unfortunately, I have found that I am working with middle brain which so doesn't do so well for me. I'm trying to edit and be creative at the same time (yes I obsess over ever word, LOL and I still don't get it right). I've hit a brick wall with about page 100. Yikes! Both sides of my brain are protesting and I can't for the life of me figure out where to go from here. ( I have a couple of destination points, but getting there is proving to be a problem.) Any advice on how to move forward (like brainstroming techniques or anything) would be greatly appreciated at this point. Of course, I know this is where the plotters thrive, and the pantsers squirm so I'm kinda wishing I was a plotter about right now. :) Maybe I'm just brain dead. LOL.

Sally Clements said...

Trish, I'm on the final few days of my wip and this article on editing is not only great but also timely. Thank you for illustrating it with your own work, it really makes it totally relevant and easy to 'get'. I know I've a lot of work to do once I've finished writing it, but I have a clear idea of where the weaknesses are, and with this a good place to start. Thanks!:)

Janet said...

"Once we're done I'll run a Q&A... for anyone who wants to brainstorm something from their WIP they're worried about."

Oh, yes!!! That'd be great! Thank you, Trish. There's something near the end of my WIP that I'm desperate for advice on.

Off to read the rest of part 15 now :)