Pub Rants

Tagged editing

(Just a note, this post is from our archives. Some references and links may be from past years.)

First person POVs can be awesome. Writers can nail a snarky voice of a character or infuse a lot of witty dialogue with it. First person POVs can stand out as distinctive. Earlier this week, I was reading a sample with that POV and although the voice was strong and the dialogue snappy, something was just off for me. I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Then this morning I woke up with a bit of a eureka moment.

The writer was using the snarky internal observation of the main narrator to describe the other characters. Well, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, except, wait for it, that’s all they were doing. In other words, the writer was using the witty voice to tell about the characters rather than actually developing the characters in the scene itself  (as a writer is forced to do when using the third person narrative structure).

If the scene is strong enough, the writer can probably get away with it. But if the scene is feeling flat with only the witty voice to carry it, then it’s going to be one-dimensional and feel off.

In short, the writer is still telling instead of showing character.

I’d have to give a whole chapter to show what I mean and in this instance, I certainly don’t have permission to do so. But if you’re writing first person POV story, get with your critique partner and see if you might be guilty of that.

Panster And The Editorial Road Map

STATUS: A lovely lovely spring day. I’ll work for a bit and then simply enjoy the day.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WHY by Annie Lennox

As a writer, are you a panster or an outliner?

I ask because your answer determines when you’d assemble the road map of your novel.

If you are a panster, don’t attempt the road map until you have finished a full draft and at least one revision.

Why? Because if you do it too early, the process of outlining can suck the creative spark or essence of storytelling right out of your project.

I’ve seen it happen with several of my clients who are not intrinsic outliners. It is simply not how their creative process works and the process of doing so dampens the story voice.

But eventually, once the story is down on paper (or should I say computer screen) then I highly recommend the road map. It reveals, very clearly, the bones of the story.

More importantly, it also reveals what is structurally weak in the plot.

STATUS: I’ll be out of the office all next week for the RT Convention in Chicago. Wait, wasn’t I just out of town?

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? PYRO by Kings of Leon

More and more as of late, I find myself creating what I call an editorial road map for any novel.

Now, when I edit a client manuscript, I use track changes to make comments as I read along. That’s pretty standard

But lately, after I finish the entire read, I then go back through the novel to construct the road map. In this process, I literally skim through the work, chapter by chapter, and I create an outline of all the major plot points by chapter for the novel.

I find that the process of formulating the outline allows me to create a framework for writing up my editorial letter.

Via the outline, I can clearly point out what works, what doesn’t work, where it should build tension or escalate the stakes, what could be deleted to tightened or even if the story has gone off the rails completely.

It’s definitely more work on my part but I think it a valuable exercise. In fact, my “road map” critiques are becoming a bit legendary with my clients. *grin* They love it (or maybe they are too afraid to say otherwise!)

And to be blunt, from a lot of the sample pages and full manuscripts I’ve read within the last 6 months, I think many writers could benefit from doing a critique road map of their own. It really does force you to ignore character, dialogue, description and boil the story down to its plot skeleton core.

A lot can be revealed about pacing and story arc.

Hum…. I’m sensing there may be a workshop idea here.

Creative Commons Photo Credit: Image Catalog