Story-fixing Your Novel––Part I

PlottingYou’ve written your novel and proofread it for grammar and usage. We’re starting a new series based on Troubleshooting Your Novel. In it, pantser extraordinaire Steven James will show us what questions to ask ourselves to analyze and fix some of the problems our novels have. Asking yourself the right questions when story-fixing your novel will make revisions go smoother. Click to Tweet #amwriting #story-fixing

Ask yourself:

“Do I need to start the story with the main character?”

Steven James is big on making promises to readers. If you start your story with a minor character who isn’t important, (unless it’s a prologue), it breaks that promise, because the reader will wonder why you started your story with that character. I once read a contest entry where the first scene had virtually nothing to do with the story. I wasn’t the judge of that entry, I was the contest co-coordinator. I suggested that the author change their beginning, because it was confusing to the synopsis and seemingly had nothing to do with it.

Readers assume that the first character introduced in a story is the protagonist. If you change that, you’ll only confuse your readers, unless it’s a vitally important element to understanding something later in the story. If that’s the case, it should be a short prologue, but not chapter one. And prologues should take place possibly years before chapter one begins.

pen-and-padQuick Fix:

Prevent opening your story from the POV of an insignificant character in the scheme of the story’s outcome. Rearrange your opening to provide promises you can keep to readers which are in agreement with the story you actually want to tell.

More Questions to Ask Yourself

Opening dialogue –– How soon will readers be oriented to how many people are present, their descriptions, where they are.

Opening description –– Whose POV is it? Will readers make assumptions that aren’t true? How can that be solved?

Opening POV –– Is this character the best one to tell the story?

Opening Plot Twist –– Is there one? How can you assure opening scene is not clichéd?

It’s wonderful to write out the story that comes from your heart and your head. Hopefully it flows out smoothly. Story-fixing your novel will help you in revising your novel, making it the best it can be. Click to Tweet #amwriting #story-fixing

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