Thanks for tuning in after my weekend off. In the mean time I have skimmed through Chapter 8: Writing for the Camera, Chapter 9: Writing Stage Directions, and Chapter 10: Script Format. I have decided to skip all three chapters here as they are very specific to script writing for film and television and this is very definitely about writing novels. So onto Chapter 11: Rewriting from Story Sense by Paul Lucey.
I am sure most people have heard for the first 100 pages an editor/agent is looking for a reason to say no, after that they are looking for a reason to say yes. Which means as writers we have to spot the weaknesses in our work and rewrite in until they hang in there to page 101. Novels are not written, they are rewritten.
Seek critics who want to help you more than they want to please you. You want your beta readers to be honest, not gloss over the yucks and emphasize the positives. You want the opposite. You want someone who wants you to write the best novel you can and will be unfailingly honest about everything they see.
Is there excessive or repetitive dialogue? Is your dialogue sharp and witty?
Do all the characters serve a purpose in the story?
Do you have thoughtful content about something or is it feel good entertainment? There’s nothing wrong with either direction but it helps to know who you are trying to appeal to.
Is the conflict productive, moving the plot and prizing secrets from the characters?
Chances are if you were intrigued enough by your story idea to spend weeks or months (dare I say years?) working it into a novel, other people will be intrigued too. Stop flitting from idea to idea and devote yourself; time, energy, and passion, into the work. It shows.
If your characters are boring, give them something to work with. Get to know them better. Give them the flaw that makes you hate your mother in law or love your best friend.
Is the story boring? Did you over explain? Are you telling or showing?
Are your characters predictable, known, stereotypes? Are you trying so hard to do the opposite of a stereotype that you become a predictable stereotype anyway?
If nothing is working….take it apart, down to the nuts and bolts if you must, down to chapters, down to separate scenes in chapters. Then throw out what is troublesome and put whats left back together with scenes that work. It’s a ton of work, but if your story idea is really important to you, invest the time and trouble.
In the end, someone will always be a naysayer. Someone will tell you it can’t be done. You can’t do it because x, y, z. And you’ll be tempted to give them some example where it has been done. Don’t bother. Save that witty repartee for your novel.
After all, if living well is the best revenge, then publishing is the best stinging comeback.