Tag: show v tell

Ten Tips To A Better Manuscript – Part Two

Ten Tips To A Better Manuscript – Part Two

So last week we talked about ways to get a first draft into fighting shape as a manuscript. This week, we’re going to cover the last five tips about turning that manuscript into something worth submitting. Any manuscript in its final phase has been edited so many times the writer may want to pull their hair out. But it’s those steps that give the manuscript its extra edge, and its those little steps listed below that really round out the editing process leading up to submission.

6. Layout. 

This is where we want to make sure our draft is in order. Some people naturally write in order, from beginning to middle to end, and that’s fine. But not all of us do. Going back and ensuring the story is in the correct order seems like common sense, but it’s also incredibly important. And who knows? Perhaps the order of events can be rearranged to make the story better.

7. Cohesiveness. 

More active reading! Actively reading to make sure all of the plot points make sense is a crucial tip. Does the main plot resolve itself in the end? Do the side plots tie into the main plot, and also have a resolution? Think about what is most annoying about a book that doesn’t fit together properly, then make sure your book doesn’t have the same qualities. Fix any issues and move along to the next drafts.

8. A catchy first page. 

Something important to remember is that the first page is make or break. As authors, we only have so much space on the first page, and that page has to grab a reader’s attention. A good first page is invaluable, so readers and the person evaluating the manuscript for the publishing company wants to keep reading.

9. Grab a beta reader or three. Or four. 

It’s important that our eyes aren’t the only eyes reading our stories. After a few drafts, when the manuscript has been cleaned up and fleshed out, send it to trustworthy people. Make sure they’re a mixture of different types of people, from readers to writers, but ultimately, I can’t stress enough that it’s important these people are trustworthy. We want them to tell us the truth about their thoughts so we can make changes where it’s necessary. We also want to make sure they won’t steal our work or leak it somewhere. Take Stephanie Meyer’s trouble with her manuscript “Midnight Sun” – this is a great example of what could go wrong if we pick the wrong beta readers.

10. Edit and edit some more.

Lastly, after our notes and the notes of the beta readers have been compiled, it’s time to make that final draft. It may take one or two drafts, but that’s all right. Once that whole process is through – and it’s a lot of work – we deserve a pat on the back. Now, it’s time to submit the manuscript, and hopefully, without butterflies. Good luck authors!

 

 

Ten Tips to a Better Manuscript – Part One

Ten Tips to a Better Manuscript – Part One

We all get them. The butterflies that populate our stomachs before submitting a manuscript to a publishing company. The process is nerve-wracking enough without second guessing our submissions. It all starts with the first draft. The brainstorming, stream-of-consciousness, and outlines have all been converted into an organized draft that resembles a manuscript. Now what? With these ten tips, authors can feel more confident about turning their first draft into a full manuscript by using a solid editing process, and quell those butterflies.

 

 

1. Research

All good stories have some kind of research. Whether the story is set in a brand new world crafted from scratch, or in the world as we know it, research will help bring the world of a story to life. Writing about magic? Research other stories and see how they made it work and why. Writing about politics? Research different political systems and parties to make the story come to life. Even in fantasy, details grounded in realism can really help readers relate to the world and feel like they are part of it.

2. Supporting details.

Like doing research, supporting details go a long way to not only flesh out a story, but to draw the reader in. There is a fine line between telling instead of showing, but that’s why the editing process takes more than one draft.

3. Make notes. 

One of the things I personally prefer is to make notes rather than delete. Some things that I think were a good idea in one edit turn out to be a bad idea for the story over all. Not all things have to be changed, and that’s the key to a good edit. Take notes while actively reading, and making edits based on those notes. Save them, and save each draft separately so no work or writing is lost, because we never know what could be recycled!

4. Active reading.

Once the first draft is complete, the research is done, and the right kind of supporting details have been added, go back and read the book. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read actively instead of critically. There will be several edits based on your active reading during the overall editing process. Actively read for glaring plot holes, and cohesion. Edit to fix those. Then go back and read again, maybe searching for details that are out of place or no longer belong. Maybe cut a scene that worked in the first draft, but upon a second or third reading, just doesn’t fit into the next draft. Don’t forget to save those scenes, though, they might still be useful! Active reading helps to get us through the multiple draft process with a focus that enables us to read our work without criticizing our voice as an author.

5. Trimming.

While actively reading, it helps to read for things that just don’t need to be there. This is the excess fat that is trimmed from the story. Maybe there was a whole scene about a food fight in that draft. It may be fun to write, but if it doesn’t further the plot or add depth to the story, it doesn’t belong. Trim it out, but save it as a separate file. It may come in handy down the road.

 

Well authors, that’s it for this week. Hopefully, these tips will get the wheels greased and help to refine the beginning of the editing process. Tune in next week for the next five tips!

The Power of Deep POV

The Power of Deep POV

Point of ViewPeople often speak about point of view in fiction. Omniscient, first, second, and third. We’ll talk about each briefly, then get into the meat of the matter.

Omniscient Point of View

This POV has fallen out of favor with the modern reader. Think “God” when you think of this POV. This is the voice that knows everything—every character’s thought. Every motive, every action. All the evidence, all the results. It kind of takes all the fun out of reading the story. There are benefits to it, sure, but more often than not, writers use it because it lets them be lazy. It’s a lot easier to switch to Larry’s POV to show he’s injured at the bottom of the Grand Canyon than to have Kathy figure it out from her kitchen in Hoboken.

First Person POV

This is the “I” point of view. The story is told from one person—me. This narrator can be reliable or not, that’s up to the author. But the pronouns are always first person. Be careful not to overuse them. While many people will argue that this is the easiest form of fiction to write (because this is how we naturally think), it’s also the easiest to abuse. These pronouns pop up like weeds because we can’t always easily substitute proper nouns in their place.

Second Person POV

This is the “you” point of view, most often seen in instruction manuals. These days, video games and adventure books use it. It doesn’t lend its form easily to traditional fiction, but it has been adapted by some of the masters in powerful ways—Tolstoy, Atwood, Faulkner, Camus, Hawthorne, McInerney, Calvino… the list is longer than you would think. This is a difficult form to pull off, but one worth exploring as a fun and challenging exercise.

Third Person POV

This is the “him/her/them” or the “he/she/they” point of view. There are two sub-types of this POV:

Third Person Limited

This is where you follow only one character throughout the story. You can only know/see/think/feel/experience the storyworld through that character.

Third Person Multiple

This is where you follow more than one character throughout the story. It is best to limit yourself to maybe two main characters (say a male and female romantic couple) or in a mystery or thriller or horror, perhaps no more than five people, just a core group. If your cast gets too big, it can get difficult for you as the author to make their voices all different. You also don’t want to make it difficult for your readers to keep track of all the characters.


Okay, you’ve chosen your point of view. You’ve outlined your plot, created your character bible. You know what you want to say and you’re ready to say it. Now what?

Time to write. Right? Right.

It doesn’t matter what point of view you’ve chosen, what matters is how deep you get into it.

The whole benefit to deep POV is that the author becomes the character, and consequently, the reader becomes the character. In order to do that, the ubiquitous “show, don’t tell” comes into play.

Let’s look at the following examples. (Please note, these examples will be simple for effect.)

First Person POV

Original:

I felt my heart race.

Revised:

My heart raced.

Third Person POV

Original:

She felt her heart race.

Revised:

Her heart raced.

The point of these simple sentences is to show you the difference a few simple words can make. In the originals, the use of the word “felt” lends a distance to the sentences. It brings the reader out of the head of the character, keeps them from experiencing the storyworld first-hand. Instead of the reader’s heart racing right along with the character, the reader is pushed out of the story and told that the character’s heart raced. The character doesn’t even get to experience it real-time.

In the revised sentences, the removal of the barrier word brings the reader back into the story. Now we’re showing, not telling, so we’re experiencing everything in the moment. The storyworld is opened to the reader. There is no more disconnect, no more separation between reader and character.

So you see, deep POV can make all the difference between a reader feeling like she’s being told a story and feeling like she’s living your story. Take the time to gouge out those extra fluff words that are doing nothing but creating barriers, and you’ll be crafting a tighter, stronger piece of fiction.

 

 

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