We are back for number three of our four-part editing essentials. You can watch the reply or read the transcript below.
A starting author might not know what a lot of the terms mean. Proofreading, copy editing and editing are all thrown around as the same words and they think they mean the same things when they don’t.
We will do a recap about why we’re assessing a scene, and why it’s important to do so.
The building blocks of writing are the scenes, and they need to fit in the overall strategic plan of not only a book, and a story arc, but in the whole series.
The inciting incident of the first book should be a mirror of the climax in the last one of the series, but one can’t know that until that climax is written. And the climax of the last book, has to answer the main story question that came out in book one. If looking back we realize we have the wrong inciting incident or climax, there’s going to be a problem.
The point of view is the character whose eyes the reader is experiencing the scene from. And when we think about it, if the point of view character can see something, hear, something, smell something, or touch something, that can be shown in a scene. If they can’t, as the character, then they can’t really know about it. it’s a promise to readers, this is how they’re going to experience the story. This is the character they’re going to relate most to in that scene. When the narrator is omniscient, there’s still a narrator point of view, strategically showing the reader a perspective of that scene. A conscious choice still needs to be made; otherwise, it’s confusing.
Thinking about what the point of view character is doing, they have to be trying to achieve something. And that’s the goal, for the scene, and for the story. Solve the murder, find the secret, treasure, etc; there’s an overall goal, but there’s also going to be a goal in every single scene. And if there isn’t a goal, we have to ask ourselves, What are they doing?
Settings include everything, location, objects, senses, the weather, etc. We can get really creative with it, it doesn’t matter what type of book we’re writing. And it will make a difference between a boring scene and an exciting one.
Tension and conflict
Every scene has to have tension. And even if we’re writing a slower-based character-driven book, we still have to include something. Tension is the expectation something bad is going to happen, and conflict is the bad thing actually happening. For example, if there’s a physical fight, the tension is, are the two characters going to fight? We’re not sure, it’s not happening yet. When the characters are actually physically punching themselves, then that’s the conflict. We don’t necessarily have to have conflict in every scene, but we do need some tension in them. And tension only works if the reader cares about the character. If they don’t care about the character’s goal for the scene, they won’t feel tension.
If we can map these elements out and with time ahead, then we strategically can place those little tidbits to keep them coming. Whereas if we have to add them in the end, it may or may not be fulfilling to the reader, because true fans will remember exactly who was where and when, and if we get out of the chronological order, or if we get a detail wrong, they’ll be the first ones that notice it.