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.
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