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Friday, July 19, 2013

Self-Editing tips on eHarlequin and Synopsis writing class in August!

Self-Editing tips at eHarlequin

I forgot to post this earlier, but I'm posting Deep Editing tips over at the eHarlequin forum boards. I'm going over 5 of the points that are in my Self-Editing worksheet and giving some feedback. I'm only online there until the end of Saturday (sorry for the late notice) if you'd like feedback. Since I'm doing 5 of the points in my worksheet, this will give you a chance to see a sample of my worksheet in case you're still on the fence about buying it.

Here's the direct link to the forum:

Register for my next Synopsis writing class in August

I'm not doing as many online classes these days, but for those of you interested, now's the time to register for a Synopsis writing class I'm giving through the Oklahoma Christian Fiction Writers group:

Synopsis writing online class ($20 (OKC member) or $25 (non OKC member)) August 5 - 16

For 12 days, I’ll be working with you to write a synopsis for your manuscript during the class. By the end of the class, you will have:

1) a one sentence hook for your manuscript proposal
2) a five sentence pitch, which you can also use in a query letter
3) a comprehensive 2-page single spaced synopsis for use in a proposal or submission
4) a character synopsis to include with your 2-page synopsis or in place of it
5) if your manuscript is completed, a full chapter by chapter synopsis (usually anywhere from 4-10 pages) for if an editor asks for a more complete story synopsis, OR at the very least, the means to write one if your manuscript is not yet completed.

Cost is $20 (OKC member) or $25 (non OKC member). If you're interested, register here: (scroll down the page a bit to see my class)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Avoiding Episodic Writing

(This post originally appeared on Suite101, but it's no longer there so I'll post it here. :)

Make the Character Proactive Rather Than Reactive

Eliminate episodic scenes by giving the character an External Goal, Obstacles against that goal, and Forward Movement in the story.

A story is more than just good writing. A story plot must have forward motion and a sense of movement that pulls the reader along.

Sometimes writers will get feedback that their story “lacks purpose” or is “episodic.” What exactly does that mean?

Episodic Writing is Reactive Writing in Vignettes.

A character needs more than just to fall into an alternate world and face Scary Monsters. He needs to have a purpose and doggedly pursue that purpose. If he simply goes from one Bad Thing to another, the story lacks direction.

When a character simply reacts to the Bad Things that happen to him, he is being reactive rather than proactive, and that can be boring to a reader.

It’s also boring to read a novel where the characters have coffee and discuss the heroine’s dead-end job, then have dinner discussing the hero’s wayward sister, then go out to breakfast the next morning and discuss the mystery of the missing diamond necklace, etc. A novel like that simply moves from one vignette to the next without a sense or urgency or movement that pulls the reader along.

Instead, give your novel focus and purpose.

Make Sure the Character Has an External Goal

Editors like to see a character who has a strong External Goal that carries him forward in the story. It provides something for the reader to follow, and it provides direction for the storyline.

In The Wizard of Oz, sure, Dorothy gets swept into another world. But her goal all the time is to find a way home. She follows the Yellow Brick Road, tries to see the wizard, gets the witch’s broomstick because the wizard told her she needs it to get home. All the things she does is for the sole purpose of finding a way home. She is not simply moving from one strange event to the next. She has purpose and focus.

Make Obstacles Against the External Goal.

Once the character’s goal is established, make the conflict targeted toward that goal.

If the heroine’s goal is to buy a particular house on Blossom Street, make every obstacle directly against that goal: maybe the bank won’t give her a loan, or her old house won’t sell and she can’t raise the down payment, or some other family is in competition for the same Blossom Street home she’s trying to get.

Don’t just have “conflict” against the character—make the obstacles work directly against whatever her goal is. Then, the story will be targeted rather than episodic because each obstacle is trying to thwart the character’s external goal.

Make Each Scene Have Several Purposes

Each scene has to have two or three major purposes that forward the plot or character arc.

You shouldn’t have one scene whose sole purpose is to show the heroine’s background or some character trait. Or one scene that only shows why the hero moved to Miami, even if that information will be important later.

If you look at a scene and can only list one or two minor things that move the story forward, that scene needs to be cut or combined with another scene. Try to ensure several major things happen in each scene.

Applying This Tips Might Involve Extensive Rewriting

The combination of these three tips will help eliminate episodic writing in your novel, but they also might involve some major restructuring. That’s okay—if you apply the time and energy to restructuring, you’ll find the novel ten times better, and possibly more appealing to an editor.
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