I present to you Eight Sentence Sunday, a blog hop hosted by Weekend Writing Warriors. I finished National Novel Writing Month in November, so you'll be seeing parts from that for the next couple of months as I expand and edit the rough draft.
A while later she was on the other side of town, knocking on Lorenzo Baldocinetti's door. The sign above the door said "Inventor." Pages from the local printing press were plastered on the window for all to see and read. Only one new one since last week, and it just looked like an ad for hiring new experts to help on the latest invention.
"Looks like an alchemist, circus performer, young man to work hard, and a smart child."
Sounded like a riddle. Must be something Lorenzo put together himself.
The door opened and the hunched man smiled. "I was hoping you'd show up today."
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With only one new submission from my critique group I was able to focus on finishing the full novel critique for a friend. I took some time, and 3k words, to talk about ways to improve the story. Many of these suggestions can be applied to any novel, so I thought I would share them with the rest of the world in a three post series about editing. Without further ado: Editing Resources.
Not all writing tools work for all writers. The ones I list are ones were particularly applicable to the book I critiqued. If they don't work for you feel free to throw them out the window.
Pyramid of Abstraction - More details make a piece feel more professional. This tool looks into why. The more grounded the reader is in a scene the more crazy shit the author can talk about without losing the reader. More specific details, particularly dealing with the senses, will help ground the reader. This is from Sanderson’s seventh class. (Which is the best in the series so far.) Definitely worth a listen.
Cutting 10% - In the realm of editing it is said that cutting 10% will help streamline a story. This isn’t supposed to be a generic guideline or goal – it's a learning process. The hope is that a writer will learn the economy of words, making sure each one adds detail, character development, action, or plot. Once an author understands the economy cutting 10% usually isn’t needed or wanted. (That being said, one of my favorite books ever, “The Mote in God’s Eye,” was the result of a request by the publisher to cut 10% even though both authors were well established.)
Sanderson’s Laws of Magic – There are three laws, the first one is usually the most relevant. “An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic.” Powers needed to be expanded upon is because the novel does use magic to solve problems. If the reader doesn’t understand the magic, and the limits of that magic, then they can’t really get used to it. There is a video or text to learn more about this law.
The best example of this is LoTF. Gandalf seems all mighty and powerful, yet he cannot take the ring to Mordor himself. BUT because the magic system is completely undefined the readers don’t question it. On the other hand there’s the ring, which has the clearly defined power of turning the MC invisible. This is used plenty of times throughout the book and when it’s used to the MCs advantage the readers love it.
Motivation/Reaction Units (MRU) – For easier reading a motivation should come before the reaction. The door needs to creak before a character has a reason to look at the door. Realizing that the photos don’t look like the apartment has to happen first, the reaction is a feeling of regret. This was from the book “Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View”, I’m not sure you’d get anything else useful out it, the rest of their suggestions don’t really suit your writing style.
With only one new submission from my critique group I was able to focus on finishing the full novel critique for a friend. I took some time, and 3k words, to talk about ways to improve the story. Many of these suggestions can be applied to any novel, so I thought I would share them with the rest of the world in a three post series about editing. Without further ado: Editing Plot.
Strong plot comes from having the reader know what each character wants and feels. The anticipation of two characters taking actions towards opposing goals lets the reader believe there will be future conflict, and that creates tension. This can also happen inside of the character, by having a character want one thing, but feel something else. Eventually the character will need to decide between the feeling and the want, and the reader will eat that up.
Applying these to Harry Potter:
The more of these kinds of conflict the better. When someone confesses to someone (whether that confession is love or sin) the tension will be significantly higher if there is a previous scene where the character goes over what they want, what they feel, and what they're scared of. In the case of romance they want to continue to have a good relationship with someone, but they feel like they could go to the next step, and if they act on the feeling then they can get what they really want; a romantic relationship.
One mark of a well paced story is the natural division and placement of action and reaction chapters. The reaction chapters are the best places to add more about the wants and feelings of the characters, particularly as the characters change throughout the book. While it might not naturally seem it, these chapters can really increase the tension.
I started 2016 with seven writing goals:
Progress so far this year:
Quantifying goals for the month:
What are your writing goals for the month?
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