Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Meat Or Veg?

I'm just starting yet another revision of the WIP, having put it to one side for several weeks.  Coming to it with a fresh eye I realise that, while my word count is on target, it reads rather thinly.  In other words, there isn't enough 'meat'.

By meat I mean substance.  I'm working on the first section and the first thing I've done is write an index card for each scene saying what it's adding: character detail, plot information, description, relationship development and so on. There's a lot going on, but quite a few scenes aren't delivering very much or are going over stuff that's already been said.

Each scene needs to move the story along and add something new.  I've been writing fiction for over ten years - you'd think I'd know that by now and be putting it into action.  Apparently not.

First process:  Combine any scene that appears to be a duplicate of another.
Second process: Beef up scenes which are crucial ie give them more functions.
Third process:  Write better.

The first two processes are technical ones and only require time and a lot of chewing the end of my pen while staring at index cards to sort out.  The third process...well, I'm crossing my fingers about that bit, but with any luck by the end there'll be a lot more meat in the scenes.

Here goes!


Victoria said...

I don't have anything like your track record, Sarah, or inside knowledge of writing, and what I say may well be rubbish. Nearing the end of a substantial rewrite of my own, it struck me that with every new piece of writing, I start out as a novice. It's as though each set of characters, each plot and each conflict has its own lessons to teach. If I rush in on the story, ablaze with enthusiasm and bursting with confidence, it will trip me up. For me to protest between clenched teeth that ‘it shouldn’t be like this’ is, I'm slowly learning, quite useless. Whatever the benefits of experience, a straightforward journey from draft to finished work doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Thanks so much for your helpful and heartening post.

Sarah Duncan said...

I couldn't agree with you more Victoria. Each book is different, each book requires its own skills. And you're right: it shouldn't be like this. But so often is. *sigh*

Charlotte Sannazzaro said...

It's comforting to know that even experienced writers have to consciously walk through these steps. I am finding scene notecards invaluable, particularly at the moment as I'm looking for gaps in plot and character development. It's also much easier to play around with sequencing without having to cut and paste whole chunks of a document! Thanks for the tips.