My WIP’s Third Revision
Preparing for Beta Readers (3)
I can find no words to describe my sorrow and frustration at the terrorist attacks in Paris. My sympathy goes out to all who were hurt or killed, and their families. Whatever their faults, they did not deserve that. I do not understand how people could do something like that, and I will never have sympathy for their cause.
I don’t know that I have ever commented on the world in my blog before. But, by remaining silent, I felt as if I supported terrorism. So, I call it for what it is…cowardly and utterly self-centered.
All I can think is how ashamed their mothers must be, to know what monsters they gave birth to.
What Have I Been Doing?
I’ve made less progress on my WIP this week than usual. I settled on how I want my chapters organized. Now, I’m tweaking the scenes to fit inside chapters, using a writerly trick called Scene-And-Sequel, taught by Jack Bickham. In it, he proposes that some scenes may benefit from deferring emotion, inner monologue, and thoughts to the end of the scene, and gathering them all up in an immediate post-scene paragraph(s), called a sequel. He proposes writing it this way, to maintain story cohesion:
Take the POV character out of time by going inside their head.
The POV character always emotionally reacts to the scene. Remember, that, until somewhere in Part Four, the POV character always enters a scene with a scene goal, an always exits the scene goal in worse shape than they were in before.
The POV character may review what just happened in the scene, or events that have occurred before. This could be a simple back-flash, or it could turn into a full-blown flash back.
The POV character may debate what to do next. This could become a full-blown contemplation.
The POV always decides what to do next.
When I wrote my original scenes, I put very few of these in because I wasn’t sure of pacing. When I organized my scenes into chapters, I wound up with two situations. Sometimes my chapters were a single scene. In other cases, my chapters contained two, and as many as five scenes. I decided, as a rule, on the multi-scene chapters, to put in no sequels in any of the scenes until I reached the final scene. And, on the final scene in a chapter, I decided, as a rule, to put in sequels. I will need to read these again to see if I like the pacing.
The reason I’m not finished with this task is the work I’m doing on Scribophile. This is a writer’s site which has the usual threads filled with comments. It is also a place where writers can post work for critique. And, the feature which ensures critiquing is something called karma (yes, I rolled my eyes, too). We can only post a work, no larger than 3,000 words, unless we spend five karma points. And…the only way to earn karma, it cannot be purchased, it to critique other works. If I write a 1,000 word critique, I can usually earn somewhere between 1.5 an 2.5 karma points. That means I usually have to critique two or three works before I can post one of my own.
When I organized my chapters, with the 3,000 word limit in mind, I found I needed 53 uploads, or 265 karma points. Running the math, that means I must write…a huge amount of crits. And, for better or worse, I’ve applied my self-taught writing rules to other people’s works. As you can imagine, some people are very open to this and want to collaborate. Others…not so much.
I also got my hard-copy back from my Trusted Reader. The good news is, my story surprised her. Now she thinks I’m a writer. And, she thought everything beyond about page 75 (of 400 plus) was very good. The bad news is that first 75 pages, which seemed clunky. She also didn’t have a good sense of where this was taking place. She’s a great fan of Tolkien and McCaffery an others, and wants to feel like she is part of that world. Interestingly, she is dying to know what happened before the start of this story.
I need to look at those first 75 pages and figure out what’s not working. Two thoughts come to mind. First, Part One is heavily populate with Dialog Scenes. Maybe it’s just the nature of dialog…or I didn’t write them very well. Second, since I wrote my story in scene order, I was learning each of my five scene types in the early part of the story. So it might be that I just didn’t write them as well as I did later on.
I don’t know what I’m going to do about the world building part. I don’t much like reading it, so I didn’t write all that much of it in. I need to think more about this. If I do this, my word count is going to soar, because I’m probably keeping most of my plot elements.
It’s an interesting question about whether I just wrote the second book in a trilogy or not. She is so interested in my characters that she wants to know how they wound up in their predicament. I will need to think about this from a writerly standpoint – would I have as much tension in the story if I revealed more of the character’s background story? Could I write a first book which made as strong a presentation as this book does?
So, What’s Next?
I will finish organizing my chapters. After that, I still have a few other things I want to write into the story that I think are still lacking. I think I will call this Revision Three.
Then I will mark it up with my Trusted Reader’s comments. I need to decide which of them I want to keep, and which I will wait and see on, and then write Revision Four. Revision Four will be the one I turn loose on Scribophile.
And…if I can keep my story the same size, I still need 166 karma points, or around 80 critiques, to be able to post my entire story. Wow. Even if I could do two critiques a day, I won’t have enough karma until Christmas.
Forgive me while I go bang my head on the table.