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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Passion and Paring Knives, Part 2

Paring your story is more than cutting. It’s refining. Sometimes it’s adding, too. Last post, I mentioned passion about your story. Let’s redirect that passion from protecting your story. Instead, become passionate about honing your story and making it stand out. How? Get that knife in hand and start asking:

* What are your characters like? Do they have any distinguishing characteristics that make them stand out? Or, for example, is your heroine like any other woman in peril? What makes her different? Do we immediately get into her head—and her heart—from the very beginning? The same with your hero. Do you make us want to root for him? Dig deep!

* Does your story start too late? What I mean is, do we have pages of pages of introduction without any problems?

* What about setting? Do you repeat situations like phone calls, restaurant conversations, car rides? These are scenes in limbo and they can slow your pace. I have a bad habit of having my characters go out to eat. Going out to eat is fun. They can discuss things related to the case, or overhear information, which isn’t a bad thing. But there’s not much action. Give us some interesting settings for downtime. This drifts into the next question.

* What about pacing? Do you give your characters too much on-the-go time, leaving little time for their inner journey? If they’re always being shot at, or running through the woods, they’re not going to have time for reflection before the next crisis. And, times like those aren’t really for inner character development.

These are a few items to get you ready to make the first incision. These aren’t nitpicky techniques, but big-picture aspects. I’ve been working on those lately. I believe that the more I dig deep and throw my passion into story surgery, it won’t be as painful in the long run.

One last note: It amazes me how many writers don’t read the type of books they’re trying to write. For example, if you’re targeting Love Inspired Suspense, you need to read their books. Keep up with what’s coming out. You’ll see examples of the pacing, chapter length, characterization, and setting that editors have selected. True, there’s an editing process from the time a writer submits a book until its release, but if you are a commercial writer, your goal is to be passionate enough about crafting your book to get it into print.


Blogger Beth Goddard said...

Great Articles, Lynette!


12:48 PM  

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