I hope you had a fun time last night! Did you dig your best disco shirt out the bottom of the wardrobe? Maybe even had a li’l wiggle on the dance floor?
I know; New Year’s Day probably isn’t the best time for a new blog post — your head is splitting and you can barely open up those orbs to more than a crack, let alone read. Well, trust me, it will get better. And once the Alka-Seltzers kick in, what better way to pass the time on hangover day than mooching about at home, reading, watching a bit of telly, and eating soup from a tin (because that’s all you are able to cook)?
Continuing on in the series Nanowrimo – What Next? Here is your third instalment…
OK, so, you’ve got a general idea where your principle plot arenas are (and if not, go back to Post #2 of this series). Each arena should be building towards that focal point, which means that each of those focal points should be the peak of intensity for that section. When you tackle any rewriting, keep in mind the focal point for the section you are remoulding and channel everything towards it.
9.) Now, go back to the emotional arc we mentioned in Post #1. In order for your protag. to swing from A (at the beginning) to C (at the end), what is it they need to learn through the middle (B)? I’m talking about a fundamental life lesson. For instance, in the Hobbit, Bilbo has to risk his life to save others in order to learn that bravery is an exhilarating adventure. This takes him from being a scared little man, living a safe but boring life in the Shire, to being a warrior and hero, ready to take on a dragon. What is it your protag. must learn through the middle? What happens in your story to serve this lesson? Which scenes will allow you to further focus events to enable it? Add these notes to your spreadsheet in the relevant chapters.
10.) This is also the stage where you have to make sure your initial foreshadowing and background are correctly placed. Foreshadowing must come ideally within the first 50% of the book – 75% at ultimate limit! Whatever happens in the climax, however the hero triumphs, it must come from some element that has been hinted at or introduced before the midpoint. Same goes for a character’s background. If something in their past provides the clanger twist or turning point in the second half of the story it needs foreshadowing before the midpoint. Too many times I read manuscripts where right smack bang in the middle of the climax the author takes a little detour into the character’s background merely to provide context/information. Not to dramatise. There is a difference between the two. The climax is all about rising action and emotion. It’s not the place for a little meandering into Tommy’s worst day at the park when he was a child – that should be way, way back – unless it's the character experiencing an emotional meltdown that contributes towards pushing the plot forward, but it should build on some history that has been mentioned before.
Another thing I read too many times is where the ending comes out from nowhere. This style of story telling usually ends up feeling like a cheat, like it’s tacked on without serving a proper intrinsic purpose to the story foundations. Make sure your foreshadowing is well-placed so that your ending feels natural.
On your spreadsheet, mark where there are plot points/motivations or denouements that need foreshadowing earlier on, or if the foreshadowing comes too late in the original version and needs moving to earlier on.
11.) Make notes on where there are plot holes, inconsistencies, or where you might need to add scenes to fill in plot points, provide context, foreshadowing, and motivations. Also note weak or redundant scenes — scenes that don’t move the plot forward, or that repeat information from previous chapters — that need either deleting, consolidating or further development. But ask yourself -– does it need to stay or can I pluck out the important parts and thread them into another chapter? DO NOT EDIT AT THIS STAGE – just note where the edits need to go.
OK, I think that’s enough homework for you for now! Next Sunday we’re going to move onto multiple points of view.
Ciao for now!