Happy New Year, writers! Write On turns four years old this week. I hope you like what you’ve done with your writing over the last few years… and now we have a new year to be writeous in.
Many thanks to Tara the Anti-Social Social Worker and Emmet for filling in… I’m still working against a tight deadline which has now been moved back a week and can’t be moved back any further without going into another season.
See, publishing works in seasons. Let’s say you sell a mystery to Big Publisher X. As a newly-contracted writer, you’re probably not going to be published right away. (It's a matter of how much is in the pipeline.) Maybe they’ve got a slot for three mysteries in fall, 2015. They have established writers who they’re expecting to fill two of the slots—quite likely with books that haven’t been written yet--and your manuscript is going into the third slot.
If something happens later on—say, in spring 2015—that interrupts the development of your book, you may be bounced back to the next available slot. And that slot may or may not be in the next season; the next season may be full already. So you don’t want to miss your deadlines.
So here I am, deep in revisions. Here’s what I’m finding on this revision:
1. As usual, my characters spend way too much wordcount looking at each other. I can cut 75% of the “X looked at Y”.
2. There are some scenes that amuse me greatly but don’t serve the story. They may be funny, clever (IMNSHO), or make a philosophical point, but they don’t advance the plot. Cutting these is painful, but out they go.
3. Sometimes a reader can’t really tell what the characters are doing or why they’re doing it. I’ve failed to bridge the gap between the scene in my head and the scene on paper. Stuff has to be clarified; spelled out if necessary.
4. My characters aren’t spending enough time being nice to each other. It’s true fiction thrives on conflict, but if the characters never do anything nice or show affection for each other, the readers might not like them either.
Anyone else deep in Revisionland right now? What are you finding?
Write a scene in which it actually matters that the characters look at each other. They gain some information by doing so, preferably something that surprises them or changes their opinion, feelings, or actions.
You can use your own characters and scenario or choose from our old reliables, eg:
- Belinda sees Lord Postlethwaite-Praxleigh (pronounced Puppy) leaving the ballroom on the arm of her rival, Adelaide
- The battle isn’t going so well for intrepid mercenary soldier Wallace Higginbotham.
- A callow youth and his/her stout companion, having just received word that someone dropped the sacred Jewel of Togwogmagog in the Eternal Swamp, have gone back to look for it.
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