3 Problems to Fix when You Revise Fiction

Last week, I was reading Jane Friedman’s blog when I came across a post on rewriting. I’ve suspected for a while that two of these things were problems in my manuscript.  The third one?  She didn’t point this one out but I’m just as certain it needs to be fixed.

  1. Along for the Ride.  While working on my mystery, I noticed that my character spent quite a bit of time pointing out what was going on.  “Oh look, a dead body.”  “He seems suspicious.”  “Nine times out of ten, the victim knows the killer.”  Clara, my protagonist, is really good at narrating the action, but actually taking part or driving it in any way?  Not so much.  I already knew I needed to fix this.  Friedman calls it giving your character agency.  I need to make sure that her actions impact what happens next.
  2. Step by Step.  Speaking of what happens next, I need to make certain that Event A leads to Event B which leads to Event C and so on.  At the moment, it reads like a drew a random assortment of “plot cards” out of a deck and have yet to connect them in any meaningful way.
  3. Talk, Talk, Talk. While she doesn’t spend much time driving the plot, my character does spend a lot of time talking.  She and the secondary characters talk in the garden, around the kitchen table, at the diner, etc.  Hmm. Until I typed this up, I didn’t realize how many of these chatty scenes had to do with food in some way.  Friedman calls these “sitting and talking scenes.”  Her advice on how to fix them?  Cut as  many as you can and remember that actions speak louder than words.
The more fiction I write, the more about writing and rewriting fiction that I learn, the longer my revision checklist becomes.
–SueBE

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