Monday, 22 February 2010

WHAT DO YOU MEAN I HAD A BEARD IN THE LAST SCENE?

Back online. Apologies for my tardiness; the lovely people who send me the interweb pressed the wrong button, and of course they couldn’t simply press another one to fix it. Many phone battles later (one of which saw me ask the ‘Customer Service’ chap if he’d won many awards for his charm), and here I am.

The timing gods appear in tricksy mood, though, as the new kitchen has just been delivered, and is expecting to be fitted. Given that the previous one is now in various piles at the recycling centre, this now takes priority. An unproductive week creatively, I fear.

Anywho, back to rewriting. As Roz (you can find her excellent blog here) pointed out below, language is something you’ll probably come to later in revision. (Not that I want to be prescriptive here.) But, if things have gone to plan, you’ll have 300 pages or so of words, some of them even in the right order. Some sections and scenes will work better than others; some may be better suited in a different order. Have a good look at your ms as if you were looking at a story board. Are there sufficient rises and falls in tension? Have you opted for an explosive, sensational opening chapter, only to amble along in back story and dense characterization for the next fifty pages? Perhaps you’ve revealed too much too soon. Does the exposition flow sufficiently, so the reader always knows where and when the action is occurring? And make sure this is drip fed, subtly woven into the action.

This will be a good time to spot anomalies, inconsistencies. A reader will spot a continuity error at a hundred paces, so if your character got a taxi to the pub, don’t have them driving home. If someone is making a call in the early 1990s, they’re unlikely to be using a mobile phone. Don’t assume certain flora grows where your scene takes place: go and check. You’ve probably done this at the start, but a list of all your characters, their ages, DOBs and years significant events occurred, is invaluable.

Right, where’s that toolbox?

5 comments:

Paul said...

I'd much rather struggle with plot and character inconsistencies than with the assembly of a new kitchen. Good luck to you and yours. (Glad you're back online.)

Glen said...

Ah - so you are saying

"Poirot gasped, the excitement of finally finishing the Sunday Times Suduko had made him spill boiling hot Pot Noodle onto his knee."

Probably shouldn't make it into the final edit?

I've a feeling this is going to take some time...

Great advice!

TOM J VOWLER said...

Quick escape upstairs, away from 58 boxes that supposedly make up a kitchen.

Too true, Paul. Bet Dan Brown pays someone to fit his.

Ha, Glen. Looks alright to me. Perhaps point out that Poirot's blog ain't what it once was, him being too busy on Facebook.

Elizabeth West said...

Ooh! I was trying to reduce word count and found a moment like this I had missed. A character had set her purse on the floor next to her front door, and a moment later it magically appeared on her arm!

Lucky for me I found it!

dirtywhitecandy said...

Commiserations on your web woes. I had something go wrong a few weeks ago and realised how helpless I am in the hands of belligerent technology.

Thanks for the mention! Good point about continuity and checking facts. You should check as much as possible as obvious errors undermine the reader's trust in your story. I'm just reading a novel involving horses in the wild west and stumbling over the equestrian details that are obviously wrong. Of course you can't account for every last bit of incidental trivia, but this writer had clearly never seen the basic tack a western horse wears - which looks a bit lazy.