My lovely blog

A quick update to thank Stef for my “Lovely Blog Award”.  Yay, awards.  I made special page to show them off. If I find anyone with a lovely blog that has not already been lovely blogged, then I will lovely blog them.  Until then, I will simply say: Thank you, Stef!

–j–

Editing…

This is what editing looks like in my world.  The first scene of Chapter 2 is latched to the clipboard, and you can see I intend to make an adjustement or two there.  :^P

Of course, you can’t edit without your handy Critique Circle printout.

Since I am living out of a hotel six hours from home, I hope to get a decent amount done this week.  Expect the answers to the question sheet I posted within the next couple days.

–j–

How I Edit, Starting Point

I took a while to decide which draft to start from.  This one is not completely embarrassing, so I will start with this draft.  My plan is to show where I started from, then go through my question list and show how I edit the scene as I go.  Finally, I will post the current (and pretty close to final) draft of the scene.  This will take several posts to get through, so let’s get started.  Here is our troubled piece of writing we will be starting from:

Continue reading How I Edit, Starting Point

Scene editing checklist

I finished reading “Story Engineering” a few days ago, and have been trying to digest it all since then.  One of the things I have done is adapt the scene checklist that he presents.  I have tweaked it to work better for me.  This is what I fill out, in full, for each scene of each chapter.  I find that it helps remove the unneeded fluff.  At least I hope so.  I guess I will know for sure once the crits start rolling in on the new version of chapter 1.  It did reduce the word count by about 800, anyway.

What is the primary piece of story exposition in this scene?

Does that information move the story forward, or is it a side trip?

Does the new info require any foreshadowing or setup from prior scenes?

Does the scene open with something clever, poignant, surprising, or interesting?

What is the precise moment – in action, dialog or other narrative context – at which the scene’s payoff will be exposed?

What is the latest moment you can enter the scene without compromising the info or the potential for a dramatic experience in the delivery?

Does the scene have its own tension and stakes and flow?

What is the reader experiencing — feeling, understanding, clarifying, or other emotion — as the scene unfolds?

Is the tension built leading into the payoff? If it is hidden, is the reader set up to make the revelation as jarring as possible?

how are you demonstrating character in the scene? Is characterization driving the exposition (goal is to show something about the character) or is exposition driving the character(goal is to show the character’s reaction)?

Is the scene efficient? Does it drive gracefully and fluidly toward its payoff moment or does it mark time needlessly?

Does the ending transition align with the mission and context of the next scene? Is it consistent with earlier transitions?

Have you avoided redundant or unneeded description?

——

Does any of this look helpful to you?  Do you have any checklists you use to keep you focused?

–j–

Out of office…

Falls Park, Reedy River.  Greenville, SC

Sometimes, you need to get away from the writing desk and look for something inspiring.  This is the view from a suspended foot bridge at a local (-ish.  30 miles away) park.   The falling water, the surrounding view, and the ducks swimming and walking around gives a different perspective than you can get from even the best computer wallpaper.

Where do you get inspiration?  Do you ever venture away from home with a clipboard and paper?  I brought that, plus my laptop and mp3 player, so I was good to go!

–j–

More surgery

Slicing and dicing the story some more.  I have been reading Larry Brooks’ book, “Story Engineering” (link to the right).  His credentials:  He developed this writing structure based on the format mandated to screenwriters.  Then he wrote his first story using his structure.  The first draft was submitted to a division of Penguin Books.  It was accepted without edits.  First draft, first query, no edits.  His next four novels followed the same path.

He describes the four sections of the plot, which corresponds to the four stages of the character arc.  He gives the milestones, checklists, etc to follow.  He then uses published stories as his examples, including “The DaVinci Code”, “500 Days of Summer”, and others.  It isn’t a formula.  It isn’t outlining.  He compares it to the engineering principles that are used when architects design the latest modern building designs.

So, what does that have to do with anything?  As I go through, I recognize where I succeed, and where I need to improve.  I intend to hang TPtP from the structure described in this book and make it fit in.  It’s funny, because every place in the story that I was unsure of, I can recognize what I did wrong within his method.

All of which is a long way of saying that I am dissecting the story again, and reworking portions of it.  Better foreshadowing, establish Mirian’s stakes early, give her some goals, and re-tool the resolution a bit.  With luck, TPtP will be better for it.

Thanks for sticking with.  I definitely recommend the the book, and if anyone wants to discuss it, drop me a note.  I linked to  it on the side.  Yes, I have an affiliate link in there as well.

–j–

Chapter 2 is hopefully…

off of life support. It is amazing how terrible my early chapters look compared to the later writing. My only defense is that the first chapters of this story were written by an absolute neophyte to the whole writing game. With luck, the new versions that I generate will be much improved versions of what I started with.

Sarintha

In preparation for the official rewrite of my novel, I needed to create the back story for Sarintha.  This is similar to what I have done for Mirian and Jerok.  It is not a refined piece of literature.  Once again, it is mostly a tool for me to know what has brought her to this point in her life.  All of it occurs prior to the events of the story.  Like much of the rest, I felt an urge to share, so here it is.

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Please don’t destroy this letter! Continue reading Sarintha