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Writing Filters to Use: The Bigger Picture Part 2

Here is the second part to Writing Filters to Use: The Bigger Picture. This part goes over dialogue, scenes, and point of view.

Dialogue

Questions to ask…

  • Did the words seem natural to the characters and fit their personality?
  • Was there too much or not enough dialogue? It’s okay to tell the reader some of the thoughts of the thoughts of the main character, but we should only know the thoughts of other characters through their words and actions, i.e. did the writer show us the story or did he tell it to us?
  • Whose story is it?
  • If dialect is used, is it used effectively and appropriately?
  • Were there enough/too many beats in the dialogue?
  • Was the dialogue used to move the plot forward or as a weal way of cramming back story?
  • Does dialogue advance the story?
  • Is dialogue appropriate to the scene?
  • Does dialogue increase conflict?

Things that can be done to enhance Dialogue…

  • Ensure that characters sound sufficiently different
  • Make sure it is dialogue and not conversation
  • Use genre-appropriate dialogue tags
  • Keep adverbs in dialogue tags to a minimum, unless genre allows them (use he said, she said’s )

Scenes

Things that can be done to enhance Scenes …

  • Make sure there are a sufficient number of scenes
  • Make sure individual scenes satisfy and that they are different in terms of action events, character combinations, dialogue patterns, and type of conflict
  • Give scenes variety in length, format, depth, and pattern
  • Use a variety of settings for scenes (or play against variety and stick to only a few settings)
  • Make sure scenes are in the best order to cause problems for the character and induce tension in the reader
  • Make sure the right scenes are dramatized and the right scenes are summarized

Point of View

Questions to ask…

  • Story view point (first, second, third limited, omniscient)
  • Is it the right POV for the story and for the scene; would another be better?
  • Is POV clear?
  • Is POV maintained within scenes?
  • Character view point
  • Who should be the viewpoint character in each scene?
  • Is the story in the right character’s POV? Would another character work better?
  • If the story is in multiple characters POV, should it be changed to just one character?
  • If the story is in one character’s POV, would the story work better in multiple characters POV?

Things that can be done to enhance POV

  • Make sure that viewpoint character doesn’t change within scenes (no head-hopping)
  • Make sure viewpoint character knows only what he could really know
  • Use a change in POV or viewpoint character to bring story and character closer to the reader or to hold the reader at a distance when necessary

The final and third part of this series goes more into structure of the story.

Posted in editing, good writing, great writing, learning to write, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing process, writing, writing advice

Writing Filters to Use: The Big Picture Filters Part 1

fountain_penOkay, so the initial first draft of your short story or novel is completed. Congratulations! Throw a big party. Pat yourself on the back. That was a lot of hard work. Then things calm down, and you decide to sit down to work on draft number two. You take a gander at your masterpiece to discover it isn’t as glamorous as you first thought. Sure, you knew it needed work, but not that much! Where to begin? What to do? The text before you becomes blurred. It gets hard to breath, and you wonder if maybe this might be what insanity feel like. But before you commit yourself to an insane asylum, there’s hope, and it’s as simple as just a little focus.

That’s where writing filters come in. It’s the process of keeping a few things (usually 2 to 4) in mind while going through subsequent drafts of a story. These “filters” help narrow things down so you can focus on what needs to be done instead of having a panic attack. Sure, there might still be a few panic attacks here and there, but at least you can move through the muck of your jumbled mess. There is a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere, and using writing filters can help distract you until that light can be glimpsed.

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Posted in editing, good writing, great writing, how to write, The Writer's Toolbox, writing, writing advice, writing better

Some Things to Keep in Mind When Self Editing

This is based off a writing workshop I took by author Gary A. Braunbeck. I found his class  gave some really great advice, so I thought I’d pass it along for others who might find it useful too. The following is an accumulation of handouts, and notes I took. His advice covered everything from dialogue tags to punctuation. Enjoy.

  • First Rule of Editing. ALL editing should be left to second draft and beyond. A first draft should not be edited until it is completed.
  • Had. Avoid using the word “had” anywhere but in dialogue; when this happens, you will be telling the reader something instead, not showing. Consider the word to be a warning bell if you see it in the body of your narrative.
  • Character Names in Dialogue. Avoid having characters use each others name too much when in conversation; shift the focus by using a simple physical action.

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