I typed up my notes from the May writer’s conference I attended and thought y’all might be interested to share in the great advice I received from editors and fellow writers.
Revising Beyond the First Draft
- Print the Manuscript and Read Aloud
Search for Plot Holes
Feedback from Beta Readers
Cut. Is this Scene/Chapter worth $300,000?
Does each chapter move the plot forward? Add tension id needed.
Provide Necessary Information
- Search for Pet Words
Quickly. Small. Little. Groan. Walked. Sigh. And. Was. Just. So. Then. Very.
- Search for Words that are NOT Necessary
That. Adverbs. Character Names.
- Use Search Tools such as Scribner and Wordle.com to track over used words.
First Chapter: Reader is thrust into the plot line.
- Start novel in the middle of the first chapter
- Minimum amount of information engage the reader.
- Brief introduction to characters (Reader should never have to ask: Why do I care?).
- Inciting incident within the first five pages. Better within the first three.
- Character should be moved to action.
- Hook embedded in the reader. Once hooked, no escape.
- Chapter ends in cliffhanger.
Meat of Plotting/7 Point Plot System (**This can be used as an Outline for Synopsis)
- Hook: Starting State.
- Plot Turn 1: Introduce the conflict, meet new people and discover new conflicts.
- Pinch 1: Apply Pressure. Introduce villain. Something goes wrong. Forced into action.
- Mid-Point: Characters begin moving from one state to another.
- Pinch 2: Apply more pressure until the situation seems hopeless/situation can’t get worse.
- Plot Turn 2: Move the story from mid-point to end.
- Resolution: Everything leads to this point.
Important Elements for Suspense
- What is at stake? Does this come to mind easily or do you have to think about it? Psychological as well as physical.
- Create Questions your Readers want answered.
- Foreshadowing: Hint but throw in a twist.
- Suspend Disbelief.
- Hard Choices with gray area. Decide between two equally good/bad choices.
- Create a hero/heroine who deserves to be called a hero.
- Can I Combine Scenes?
Mid-Picture: Scene Level
- One sentence test. Can you describe a scene in one sentence?
- Is there action? Internal/External.
- How many characters are on stage?
- Keep it simple.
- Don’t show and tell at the same time.
- Specificity. Strong Nouns. Strong Verbs. Strong Adjectives. Don’t use long strings of any.
- Cut Down. How can you say it in one word? Just use verbs. Get rid of: that, the, of, would, etc.
- Duh Sensory. Sniffed with his nose. Wore a big grin on her face.
- Watch for Adverbs. Cut 90%. Look for “was,” cut and reword.
- Qualifying Absolutes: unique, essential, fatal, perfect, true, big, small, etc.
- Comma: If addressing a human being always use a comma before his/her name. Who or what is doing the action.
- No Comma: simultaneous actions that can’t be done at the same time. Example: Lighting a candle, she settled beneath the covers=dangerous.
- Cut Out: there are/there were/there is. There was nothing in her personality that hinted…
- Preposition and Prepositional Phrases: location or direction. She climbed up out of the box. She sat back down onto the chair. Looked back down at his hands.
Garbage Words: very, really, a bit, immediately, suddenly, any, well, just.
Malapropos: Wrong Word/Wrong Form.
Define It/Define That/Define This: Be Specific.
- The=implies an item we already know about.
- A=implies a generic item.
Comma Splices: Can Both Parts be Independent?
- Make two sentences.
- Use a conjunction (and, for, not, yet, but, so).
- “Then” is not a fix. Have to use “and then.”
- “Then” can be used if not connecting two independent clauses.
- Semicolon for closely related ideas. I’m not a poet: I cant’ write a love letter.
- That=specific or needed.
- Which=after thought/additional information.