Following last month's post, I promised to continue this topic. As many authors are publishing e-books, some good, some bad, some riddled with spelling, grammar and structural mistakes, I thought it was timely as self-pubbed authors don't have access to all the editorial help available to those who are lucky/unlucky (depending on your experience) enough to go the traditional route.
My first post talked about writing the first draft, putting it away for a week, month, whatever, then getting it out again and seeing what is to be done. According to the structural editor I conferred with recently at Queensland Writers Centre, the first stage of the editing process is structural, i.e. seeing how the larger elements of your work fit together.
A good idea is to start with a chapter breakdown (you may have done one in the planning stage, but quite likely it has changed during the first draft) before you begin your structural analysis. This provides a skeleton structure of your ms and is useful for analysing plot lines and characters' story arcs. Maybe you'll find a key plotline fades out before it should, or a character you meant to be key throughout the novel vanishes altogether in an early chapter.
Structural analysis is hard work. It's best to break it down through a series of questions for - CHARACTERISATION, NARRATIVE VOICE/POV, PLOT, STRUCTURE.
This post will look at CHARACTERISATION. I'll look at the others in future posts if this post appears helpful.
CHARACTERISATION - questions to ask yourself:
- Does your story have a clear main character with a developed story arc?
- Do you know what the secondary characters are contributing to the story? What is their function?
- Do your characters DO things, or are they passive?
- Do you know why your significant characters act the way they do (their motivation)?
- Are there too many characters? Could you merge minor characters that fulfil the same function, or remove characters without a clear role?
- Is there a balance of narrative text and dialogue, i.e., are you letting your characters speak?
(These dot point courtesy of Nicola O'Shea, freelance editor for a wide range of Australian publishers/authors. Go to www.nicolaoshea.com for more...)
At a recent Toolkit for Writers workshop it was stated that your antagonist wants to be the protagonist. Is your antagonist strong enough to have his/her desire met?
I read a related article at KM Weiland's Helping Writers Become Authors, where she states your mc needs not one, but at least two conflicts. Another thing to think about when you're being your own editor.
- I hope this was a helpful post for IWSG. The purpose of Alex J Cavanaugh's group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Go here for more participants...
A word before I go. RomanticFridayWriters' next challenge is Being the Perfect Ex. 400 words of prose or poetry. Open to all writers. You can learn more here...