Last Wednesday, my goat, Molly got her head stuck in the fence…not once, not twice but three times. It’s not something she normally does, but she was lured by the bright yellow flowers on the other side of the fence. She had to have them no matter what – her immediate goal got in the way of her common sense.
I sometimes think that this is what happens with writers yearning to get their work published. We are so focussed on the ultimate goal that we can’t be objective about our work – can’t deviate from what we are doing even though there may be a better way.
Molly getting her head stuck in the fence repeatedly also made me think about the fact that making the same mistakes over and over again (and not learning from them) is something that can hold our writing back. So how do we stop ourselves from doing this?
Here’s what I do:
I make a list of all the things I need to watch out for in my next draft.
- Are my characters interacting with the setting or have I just put description in?
- Have I made my plot too complicated?
- Have I developed my characters enough?
- Have I given my supporting characters different motives and focus?
- Have I used repetitive language?
- Has my character grown and changed during the course of the story?
Although I ended up with blisters and was physically tired from fixing Molly’s fence, it didn’t take a great deal of brainpower to solve the problem. All I had to do was attach finer mesh to the existing fence and use fasteners to keep it in place.
FIXING HOLES IN MANUSCRIPTS
As I twisted and attached the wire, I thought about how fixing fences is much easier than fixing holes in manuscripts.
For starters, holes in manuscripts are much harder to identify. Here’s how I identify mine.
1. Do a scene map identifying
- Which characters are in each scene
- The purpose of each scene
- What my main character’s motivation in each scene is
- Conflict in each scene
- Whether the scene moves the story forward in the direction I want it to
2. Once I have my scene map I compare it to my plot diagram and see where the scenes match up, and if it’s where they should.
3. I look at turning points, the climax of the story and whether the resolution is strong enough.
4. I look at whether I have left the appropriate clues for the reader – will they be hooked into the story all the way through?
In much the same way as the fence rebuilding, I hope to identify the holes and fill the gaps.
How do you identify holes in your story? I’d love you to share your techniques and experiences in the comments section of this post.
P.S. Don’t forget to check back here for Friday Feedback and if you’d like to submit 150 words for feedback, email me Dee*at*DeeScribe*dot*com*dot*au