Wednesday, December 9, 2009

goodbye to stick season

Fine snow drives down, piling up in the tree crotches and capping the birdhouses. As I work on Hildegard, I’m re-reading Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. He says triage is the way to revise. Tackle major matters first.

Are the characters alive and well-rounded? Both protagonist and antagonist need to have positive and negatives qualities. Minor characters need at least one special characteristic.

Make sure the conflict is credible. Does the plot need to be strengthened?

Compare the most memorable scene with the least memorable. What makes the first work well? If the least memorable scene can’t be fixed, cut it! Keep testing the next least memorable scenes until the scenes that are left create a strong story.

Are the three most important actions in the book well motivated? Motivation is caused by circumstance or planted ahead of the action. Check all important actions for poor motivation.

Finally, read the first page only. Make sure there is a compelling reason to turn the page.

After the triage work of the writer, the manuscript is ready for general revision. Read through with the eyes of the reader and the editor. Tighten. Transpose. No purple prose!

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