Sunday, November 7, 2010

Story Check

Whether you're cranking out a first draft this month, or revising away at a finished one, we all have to remember the key elements that make up a story.Keep them in mind as you write and revise:

STORY ISSUES

Does the plot make sense? Is there strong narrative? Identifiable conflict? Pressing story question? Is the reader engaged from the first scene? Pacing good?

CHARACTERS

Does each character have a purpose? Are they defined by their dialogue and actions? Are their feelings shown rather than described? Are their traits explained on a need to know basis throught the story? Is your MC likeable or at least sympathetic? Does each character have unique mannerisms? Does your MC have a goal and arc (meaning they end up different than when they started?)

DIALOGUE

Is it believable? Does it flow? Does each character have his/her own voice? Does it move the story forward to reveal chapter question? Is there a nice balance between dialogue and summary?

SCENE

Does it contain elements of location in time/space; action; dialogue? Does each scene have tension? How about the right number of beats for pacing?

GENERAL

Are you RUI? (Resisting Urge to Explain)? Are you showing instead of telling? Do you have enough interior monologue? Are you looking for verbs to use instead of adverbs and modifiers?

                                                 


Whether you're a plotter or panster, you have to have some kind of basic knowledge and idea before you create a story. I'm a little of both. I plot out a chapter outline of how I want each one to go and what scenes to expect will carry the plot.

Then, while I'm writing the first draft (which I'm doing now and using NaNo as an excuse to stay motivated) I create the scenes and just go with it. So in a sense, I'm flying by the seat of my pants while I write, and often digress because I can't get my characters to do what I need. LOL! Isn't it funny how they have a mind of their own? Sometimes that's a good thing.

I'm already thinking of places in my WIP where I can cut, and I think I even have too many characters. I'm going to have to cut a few who I wanted to use to add some flavor, but they just don't further the story at all. I'm a third of the way in ... feels great! Now, to get writing ...

How about you? How's that WIP coming along? Are you like me and already finding places or peeps to cut?

16 comments:

Quinn said...

I'm slacking. I should be editing, but I'm not. I did read through it once to check for flow and the bigger issues.

My cast of characters is already pretty tight, so there's no one to cut.

Love the cartoon!

Mary said...

Great post (and a great reminder to all of us). Love the cartoon!

Nicole Zoltack said...

Great post. Love the cartoon!

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Haha, thanks for the reminders! I always forget during the editing process what questions to ask myself, though while I'm writing I remember them perfectly. Go figure. :)

JEFritz said...

Oh yes, there is so much I want to change, add to, subtract, etc. But I'll do that AFTER I reach 50 K.

And as usual, you have a clear list of important advice. Now, I have to go resist the urge to explain...

William Kendall said...

Great post, PK! And funny toon!

I'm editing as I go along.

Rachael Harrie said...

Great post PK. Somehow I managed to write my wip with only the necessary amount of characters, so I don't need to cut them out. But...lots of other stuff to pick up on, and your list will help :)

Rach

The Golden Eagle said...

I find myself thinking of things to cut while I'm writing, too. I sometimes edit what I've written as I go along, but most of the time it's just getting out as much as possible. Everything else is pushed aside unless it seriously nags.

Stephen Tremp said...

I have a JUNKYARD for all the stuff I take out. sometimes I can use parts later. And great comic. The obvious thought are query rejection letters.

kmckendry said...

I try to plan, but mostly I write by the seat of my pants as well. Then I spend lots of time revising!

Regina said...

I think that I always have more people than I know what to do with. Cut, add, cut some more. Invite new characters...tells some to get out. I don't know what I am doing sometimes. LOL

Florence said...

I'm doing a rewrite challenge. Got to page 141 and decided to change the entire beginning.

I'm up to my arm pits in research and having a great time. I would still love to have the rewrite done by the end of November.

I'll keep you poste. Good writing with your new story.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yeah, I'll probably go back and hack a few things. If I don't, my test readers will insist!

Martin Kozicki said...

After years of contemplating, thinking, and writing it in my head, I eventually "vomited up" (to borrow Diane Muldrow's term) my first picture book in about 2 hours of solid writing.

It has now been 3 months and I'm still in the process of writing art notes, making small edits, etc. I know exactly WHERE it's going, but am taking my time getting it there so as not to impulsively step out of line with that vision.

That said, I like your checklist. I love checklists in general, so this was fun to look over and go "yep, yep, yep." :)

LTM said...

gotta hand it to you, P, these little checklists you give from time to time are super helpful to me! I think we're on the same wavelength. Thanks! :o) <3

T C Mckee said...

I'm saving this in bookmarks. I can't remember half the stuff I've already cut. It's funny how quickly things flow when you're getting that story down in a first draft then going back and really finding the unnecessary things that need to just go. This list will help in that process. I'm having a moment of chocolate in your honor. I hope you like chocolate, if not I do, and I know that you want me to enjoy a moment in your honor to the best of my ability. Thanks for realz;)