Love, Hate Relationship

Imagine 4 people in a room. Let’s name them: Jim, Neil, Tom, and Flarbb—because I can. Normally, if you’re trying to write a dialogue between these four people, it would either be narrowed between two for a standard back and forth. Like…

Neil and Tom walked to the other side of the room to gaze admiringly at a tall vase that didn’t house any flowers but should, because, what was the purpose of a vase if it didn’t house any flowers?

Meanwhile, Jim complained about Flarbb’s wife. “Betty cooked me dinner, again. Can you believe her?”

“She was just being nice,” said Flarbb. “She loves your company.”

Or, you add two more people by adding names.

“Quit ragging on Flarbb, Jim.” Neil gazed hotly at him. 

Tom had to pull Neil back, worried about his friend and his history of violence. “Come on buddy. Let’s go back and look at that vase.” 

Now, I imagine that’s everyone’s normal dialogue. Dropping names when the reader can pick up it’s only two people going back and forth. But, have you ever dropped everyone’s names? Read this by Neal Stephenson:

“Dr. Waterhouse, you must be warned, has fallen quite under the spell of Herr Leibniz—”

“—him that stole the calculus from Sir Issac—” someone footnotes.

“—yes, and, like Leibniz, is infected with Metaphysickal thinking—”

“—a throwback to the Scholastics, sir—notwithstanding Sir Isaac’s having exploded the old ways through very clear demonstrations—” (17)

What I like about this is that it quickly fills a room with voices without creating the people to go with them, effectively creating a noisy crowd, the kind that has to interrupt itself like fifteen times. I love it. I find it really difficult to juggle multiple characters since it’s hard to carry that many voices on a page without it sounding repetitious with all the names, like Jim told Neil who yelled at Flarbb, etc.

What I don’t love but hate—not really hate, but for the purpose of the title, let’s call it hate—is that none of these voices have faces. And I know you’re thinking isn’t that what you just said you loved, but dang nabbit, I’m not finished. None of these voices have faces, and this isn’t a one-time use thing that he does for the purpose of this ‘crowd.’ Stephenson actually does this a lot with all his characters, even the important ones.

“I defer to you, sir.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“But without seeming to be a Cavilling Jesuit, I should like to know whether Wilkins’s urine is a product of Art or Nature.”

“You saw the jar.”

“Yes.”

“If you take the Rev.’ urine and pour off the fluid and examine what remains under the Microscope, you will see…” (123)

Now, this is just a random example, where Stephenson goes for 6 lines without naming people, and I don’t know what is the magic number for a maximum number of lines without naming anyone, but I have seen him go longer than this.

The reason this bothers me is because of the talking head syndrome. I like to see how characters are interacting, what their hands are messing with, how their faciial expressions are changing. I don’t like to read just voices going back and forth – for most of the time. There are exceptions like this one. But for the rest of the time, I get bored or distracted, especially since there are always names I don’t recognize, in which I’m too lazy to go back and figure out who this is and why we’re talking about them.

In summary, I’d say the love/hate thing accurately describes my relationship with this book. I’m on page 224 out of 335, which is only book one of volume one. (There’s three books in this volume.) And at times, it does go faster, but then I hit ruts like the one I’m in right now, in which it just drags and drags, and I don’t know why I’m reading about the things I do, but hopefully it gets better from here.

Oh well…Happy reading!

Stephenson, Neal. Quicksilver. New York, NY: William Morrow, 2003.

Advertisements

When to cut chapters, Part 2

Instead of focusing on whole chapters, I want to narrow my focus to singular chapters with multiple scene shifts, which usually coincide with changes in perspectives, such as the case with Dark Orbit and its two main characters, Thora and Sara.

And since this is part 2, let’s focus on Chapter 2!

In Chapter 2, as I mentioned earlier, the reader opens to a scene with Thora’s audio diary, always recorded in italics (since this is the written record): “Iris, they have called it: the rainbow planet” (Gilman 23). As previously mentioned, this jump-starts the chapter with perspective orientation and scene setting. We now know that we will read from Thora’s perspective as she looks upon the distant planet from the space ship. (The space ship is a little bit of a stretch, but as you read further, you will get that from the beginning paragraph.)

This scene continues with Thora’s internal dialogue as she reflects how she hides who she really is, how she must always pretend to be normal. It’s not until the end of the chapter that we realize Thora’s want: to escape, stated as wanting to escape into the planet’s light, which she thinks is a shield to hide all of Iris’ secrets.

(This is a beautiful metaphor since light normally reveals, and instead, on the planet, conceals all of Iris’ secrets.)

So far what I can tell is that we’re still introducing Thora’s perspective and character, revealing her background and desires, which is where this perspective leaves us. It stops on a detail of Thora’s character, which is not really enough to drive us forward yet but it does help set up the story. 

The next perspective opens with Sara, how she was “practically the last one to arrive aboard the questship” (Gilman 25). Again, this sets the scene, and the perspective continues with Sara’s analysis of the crew members since this is her first time aboard the ship (still in introduction-mode with this chapter). Her perspective ends with an observation, of who is the last character she has to meet.

It seems like so far, perspective shifts are creative choices. Once the author has shown us what she has to say, then that perspective is thorough, although this next scene shift has some flow since both the end and start of the next orientation talks about observation and spies.

Thora begins with “I know the Magisterium must have sent someone here to spy on me” (Gilman 40). And this is true! Sara is meant to spy on Thora. This I consider one of the best scene breaks since Sara stops on this thought and Thora begins on the same one. This scene continues as her natural flow in thoughts, which reveal how untrusting she is. It then ends with a internal revelation, “But if I ever do [become trusting], then I will lose my power, and become like all the other content, unmindful people, ordinary and undriven” (Gilman 41).

So far I have to say that all of Thora’s scenes end with a detail about her character. In the first one, we get a desire, and in this one, we get another desire. Each of these facts are continuing to define her – the entire purpose of this chapter: To introduce all our characters. 

But this isn’t the end to her perspective, only to this specific scene. Her perspective continues with a vague sentence, “I need to record this now, while it is still fresh in my mind” (Gilman 41), evolving into a recollection of her dream and memories of how she found the first murder aboard the ship. Her scene ends with an observation – the final for the chapter – “He almost had the look of a min in love – and in a sense, so he was, for whoever had committed this brutal act was now his prey” (Gilman 44).

Even though this is her scene, the perspective is widening. She has only commented, or reflected, on how the security guard looks when he find out there there’s a murder, which feels like more of a fade out in a movie. We’ve ended the chapter with a complication, an increase in tension, and the perspective is beyond Thora now. The rest of this chapter already finished its purpose: to define our characters. 

In conclusion, in my opinion, each scene break coincides with a fact, particularly the most important ones of this chapter. Because this chapter’s purpose was to introduce characters, each fact we end on is related to the development of all the different characters, including minor ones aboard the ship and the other main protagonist. 

I think if I were to examine the other chapters, I would find the same results: End on a factual statement that can be collected and equated to the purpose of the chapter. 

Gilman, Caryoln Ives. Dark Orbit. New York, NY: Tor, 2015. Print.

When to cut chapters

SPOILER ALERT!

Dark Orbit is written in chapters, and not just the ordinary chapters with a single story but with multiple scenes coalesced into a single chapter. And each chapter break also coincides with a perspective change, alternating between Sara and Thora, or at least most of the time. (Read the italics for the theory on chapter breaks.)

Chapter 1: About Sara reorienting herself with Capeallan society after 25 years, this chapter overviews the main character’s background and personality while introducing a new plot line: observing/protecting Thora aboard the space ship, called Escher. This chapter comes in right when Sara coalesces on the transmission pad and ‘fades’ out at the ending of her job assignment meeting with her boss.

Chapter 2: This chapter introduces us  to the second main character, Thora, in the form of a written version of her audio diary. “Iris, they have called it: the rainbow planet” (Gilman 23). It first focuses on facts, on the new setting of where our characters are now located. And then after, introduces some of the tension points (which crew members are present and their relationships with each other) and new conflict (somebody was murdered within their room). It fades out with Thora remembering how she showed the crime to the head of security.

Chapter 3: “News of the murder spread through the ship at the speed of a rumor…” (Gilman 45) continues the tension with the murder, except a reversal in perspective, this time continuing with Sara. But while the murder is still a mystery, the scientists continue their mission to the planet’s surface, ending with Sara wondering where Thora had gone, ramping up the tension with a new conflict: where had the book’s most central character gone? And had she been murdered?

Chapter 4: The first line of this chapter continues with the conflict, changing the setting, by moving all the characters back to the ship. Even though there is a portion with Thora’s POV, most of the chapter sits in Sara’s POV, trying to figure out where Thora went or was murdered. At least, until a new conflict is added within the last line of the chapter, “Sara, it’s a native” (Gilman 92).

Already I’m sensing a bit of a pattern. The first line of each chapter continues the previous situation, reinstating the conflicts as a bit of a reminder. Which makes me think it’s almost a sales gimmick – for those who have put the book down between chapter, it’s easy to jump back and remember what you just read.

And the last line, almost section, of each chapter introduces another conflict that ramps up the tension of next portion of the book. Notice it’s always something different, whether a complicaiton or conflict: first the murder, then another supposed murder, and now native where they expected none. We’re maybe a third into the book, and we’re easily being pulled along.

Chapter 5: “I am in darkness,” says Thora in her audio diary (Gilman 93), introducing us to a new setting and giving away a point of tension, that Thora is still alive and well, but somehow blind at this point in time. The chapter continues with Thora, discovering where she is, which natives rescue her, and why she is here. It ends with with a point of excitement for her character: “I am tantalized by the thought that they can lead me to something I have been seeking for a very long time” (Gilman 115).

I also think it’s very interesting that most intros and conclusions of each chapter start with an internal reflection. It’s very few to open/close with dialogue or action, usually only with reflection by the character. 

Chapter 6: This chapter actually feels like a continuation of chapter 4 because it restarts with Sara’s reaction to the dialogue of ‘a native.’ It then moves to the native’s interaction with Sara and the rest of the crew, and ends with the realization they will have to teach a blind person to see in order to get Thora back.

Chapter 7: And then back to Thora! Another internal reflection, not really a setting-related fact, only a feeling: exhausted. This chapter continues to delve into Thora’s interactions with the local community, and how she is learning more about her past, herself, and something the natives call, the Ground. The last thing we read is Thora’s feelings on the subject: “I think I am close to an important discovery, perhaps more important than anything I have ever learned – yet if I could escape tomorrow, I would” (Gilman 164).

Chapter 8: Back to Sara and teaching the native to see, as stated in the first line of the chapter, reorienting us in the perspective and plot. It continues with this purpose, except toward the end, conflict is ramped: the native had vanished and a gravity bubble, or spatial anomaly, appeared in the space ship, which broke their lightbeam assembler, preventing their return to Capella Two.

At this point, I believe the slowest chapters are Thora’s, but having finished the book, I also believe these are the most important. The slowness comes from the fact they are so reflective, without the tension-heavy conflict that comes from Sara. But I think it’s Sara, action-heavy perspective that helps propels the book forward, revealing Thora’s discovery, with the aid from Sara, who thinks in more plain terms, being a scientist that observes culture, not the senses. 

Chapter 9: This chapter starts with an observation: the medicine man was reluctant to take Thora on as a student with the rest of the chapter showing how she became the student and learned his experiences. It ends with a new conflict: the gravity anomalies are getting worse, and Thora needs the medicine man for help, except he’s gone. This ramps up the tension at the end of the chapter.

Chapter 10: Another observation starts this chapter: a character’s reaction to Thora’s reaction. Thora must get home, but a character helps lead home to her, ending with a partial conclusions – Thora was found: “There, lying in the perfect blackness beneath them, was Torobe” (Gilman 240).

Chapter 11: And yet another observation, this time of the what the city looks like, directing our attention to the new setting and that we’re set in Sara’s perspective. This chapter shows the city’s desperation, and the first contact between the two communities as they ask each other for help. The last part of the chapter shows tension ramping up with a new complication: the space ship was rearranged from the spatial anomaly.

It seems not only are chapters started by a continuation or restatement of the previous happenings, but can also start with an observation that helps set the scene. I still find it conclusive that each chapter ends with either a profound thought or some sort of tension ramping which encourages the reader to continue with the story rather than stop and take a break. 

Chapter 12: Restatement: “They returned to a different ship than they had left” (Gilman 263). This is the people’s last chance to save each other, but they must trust each other – a difficult thing considering that characters distrust each other from the initial murder and mission arrangement. But, it ends with a partial resolution: “He looked at her hand as if it were a cobra, but finally shook it” (Gilman 283).

Chapter 13: Another repetition of what readers have missed: “I am going back to Torobe,” says Thora (Gilman 285). She is the central character who is going to save the people of both communities. But it is Sara who we leave with, with a repetition of the initial introduction when she climbs back onto a lightbeam dis-assembler instead, bringing us in a complete circle.

I think it’s definitely safe to say these chapter breaks were designed with the act of reading in mind. Each starting sentence is with the intention to re-introduce readers to the action, reminding them what they had previously read while each ending sentence ramps up the tension with some sort of conflict or complication in order to encourage readers to keep on reading. 

It’s a very interesting design choice, and I think it’s a good thing to keep in mind when you want to encourage readers to finish your book. It can make the difference between a somewhat dragging read, to a faster read since readers who devour chapters are devouring your book. 

Gilman, Caryoln Ives. Dark Orbit. New York, NY: Tor, 2015. Print.

Duck. Duck. Pass!

I’ve been working with the theory of passing – a form of editing that involves checking your paper for a single aspect and then repeating through a list, and I feel like this method has been really working well for me. It keeps the task from feeling overwhelming, and helps me stay focused.

It also reminds me a lot of CUPS, which works in the same theory, working in passes over your paper while checking for specific aspects of copy editing.

I’d like to propose another acronym for editing. But first, I have to examine what I’d like to check for:

1. Concise writing

2. Understandable timeline

3. Tense conflict

4. Smooth transitions

5. Original plot line/characters

6. Many internal reflections + reactions

7. Evocative imagery

CUT SOME sounds pleasantly terrible when you consider it’s in respect for a book, not necessarily your dinner. Ha. And it’s a nice phrase to keep in mind while editing. I’ve found that I tend to deviate within my writing, and although it can be timely, a lot of the times, it drags out a scene and becomes distracting. Cutting has helped me a lot…

Also not a healthy phrase to say at a party.

But each of these is something I would recommend to check within a pass while editing. Change as you see fit.

For more help, look here!

Edit: I want to remind myself: Action, reaction, reflection. These are the most important pieces of a story, and without these, your story is lifeless! I definitely think there’s such a thing as over-editing, which might cause me to go back and write straight up scenes to inject life back into a piece. Tragic, I know.

How long is a chapter?

When you think of a chapter, you think of a book, maybe a textbook, where there is a clear division between segments with a new title and number for each of them. But the question is, if you’re writing, how do you know where to make that division?

The easy answer is when you’re changing topics. For a book, there’s a logical transition through the plot. If you were on a mission to buy a grape, maybe the first chapter would be finding your keys, the second chapter would be starting the car, the third of calling a friend to drive you instead because your car wouldn’t stop…get the idea? Each chapter will have its own miniature plot, where you have a purpose that slowly builds up to the climax and reverses back to the resolution.

The long answer? There’s so many reasons! In the case of James Patterson, he’ll have chapters that are literally pages long. If you look in Maximum Ride, there are some chapters that only last a single page. What’s the point?

Marketing. Shorter pages means a quicker read. For people that measure their books by chapters, readers will feel more accomplished finishing a chapter rather than saying they finished a page.

But there’s more reasons than this. I’ll try to outline some reasons below:

  • Show developments within the plot
  • Change POV
  • Enhance dramatic effect

I would recommend sifting through some comments here. One person, Rob Bignell Editor, presented some good arguments, which I borrowed for my bullet-ed list above.

Other reasons appear when arguing different chapter lengths, outlined below:

Short Chapters Long Chapters
– Short attention spans

– Quicker paced stories

– Simple Plots

– Slower paced stories

– Complicated Plots

The main idea, which AJ Humpage does a wonderful job summarizing, is you cannot “pick a number like 80,000 and then divide it by 30 chapters to give you 2500 words a chapter (average).” Books’ chapter lengths vary. She wrote, “If you have ever read Faulkner’s ‘As I Lay Dying’ or many Stephen King novels, then you’ll realise that a chapter can be a sentence long.  Or just one word.  Or it can be 5000 words.  Again, like novel length, chapter length is dictated by what is happening in the story, not by the law of averages and applied mathematics.”

As Brian A. Klems wrote, “When you find those “commercial breaks,” end your chapter and start a new one.”

PS. Keep in mind that not all books have chapters, although it’s most common that they do.

Story Arc

I really liked my kitty story but while working on it, I had to ask myself, was this the best story? If the characters and conflict were the same, was this way the best way to tell it?

I had to back track. Write down the motif of the story, and then rephrase the theme in a question: which would you choose…? I then looked to Freytag’s pyramid, which outlined the specific pieces of a story arc in the form of a “heartbeat” – seems fitting for a story that’s supposed to have a life of its own. I checked to see if I had all my pieces in order.

freytag pyramid

Image courtesy of Ohio University. 

This is a good way to either check your work or help construct a story. Mainly because all stories should have a beginning, middle, and end no matter how much you protest. If you cut off a movie before the ending, you’re going to have a crowd of angry people wanting their money back. So even if you want to break the “pattern,” you’re still going to have to include the most basic parts of a story.

Exposition: setting up the story with the main character, background, setting

Incident: the initial conflict

Rising actions: the complexities of the conflict evolve

Climax: the high point of the story, the tipping point when the character makes a difficult decision. This is when the reader should be feeling most anxious.

Falling actions: all the consequences of the climax play out

Resolution: events are wrapping up, everything’s about fixed

Denouement: the end

Now, not all stories will resemble this strict single “heartbeat.” Others will take the form of an actual life with multiple “beats” as the story moves up then down and repeats itself through multiple conflicts, straining to reach the overall resolution of the character’s goal. But this is a good place to start!

Inter-webular: A Community of Writers

‘Interstellar’ means between stars, which makes inter-webular between the world wide web which for some reason contains less syllables than ‘www’? That’s weird. English is weird. You know what’s not weird?

Me. Nah – I kid. I’m definitely weird.

But, I thought it was interesting how much potential is on the web. You can literally do anything if you have an idea for it. And, I think people have taken this rule and run with it. There’s a website for everything: how to write, why to write, ideas on what to write…You can search a million synonyms for the concept of writing: books, novels, stories, etc. and so much will come up! I’ve compiled a list here, but of course it’s short. The inter-webular is limitless.

Scribophile

This website is basically an online writing community, a digital critique group. You can edit/comment on someone else’s post (either part of or the entire story), and you win these little karma points for your good deed! Once you have enough karma, you can submit your own story for feedback. This has been my favorite site so far!

Wattpad

This one is pretty interesting – I’m not signed up yet – but in theory, this is a website where you can post chunks of stories. And, I’m assuming this is a good place if you just like to write and don’t want to be officially published on a money-making basis, more if you want followers and readers – like a fan base. Pretty cool in theory. Be a good way to start your publicity. Especially since you can update your stories in chapters and readers/followers get messages when you do.

Page 99

I do like this one. This is a website that caters more to your style of writing rather than the big edits that writers/editors will focus on. If you still need to work on your syntax, word choice, dialogue – the entire stylistic approach, this is a good website for you. Submit your 99th page and get feedback from the community!

WordPress

This is just plain good for blogging/websites, publishing anything for any apparent reason, as long as it’s within the general nature of the internet, which is of course, everything. I use this for fun, use it for school, apparently the school/state use this for teacher evaluations…Must be good if companies are using it. But, either way, I like it’s ease of use and customization. You don’t need to know HTML to use it.

Inkitt

From my understanding, this is another community for writers/readers. You publish a story, and people can read them. But while Wattpad offers a strict reader/writer relationship, Inkitt offers a lot of contests, catering more to the writer community. It uses a ‘like’ rating system, similar to Facebook, to let people review stories. I would see this more as a publicity thing, mainly to accrue followers.

Nanowrimo

This is probably the most famous of all the websites. It’s a month-long writing “contest,” where you compete with yourself to finish a goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s supposed to give people the pressure and motivation they need to finish a project. And in return for participating, you get to meet up with other writers in physical groups or online forums. You get the nice writing tips, contests, discounts for finishing…all sorts of good stuff. I would recommend everyone try it once, to push yourself and see how much can you write.

Blogger

Similar to WordPress, except much more rigid in its web design, Blogger is another site you can write to your heart’s content. Mainly for writing. Actually mostly just for writing. If you want to write, post, and already have an account with Google, this is an easy outlet. I used it for a while. Would recommend purely on its ease of use.

Techniques to Edit

Here’s a few ideas on how to help you edit!

1. Create a reverse outline

This will help you create a summary of your story and to examine each piece to see if it helps with the overall theme. This is good for those people who don’t create an outline to start and instead just write, and write, and write…

2. Read it out loud

If you’re socially awkward, that’s okay. Do this in your own home! The point of this is because we learn language first through speaking, there is this ingrained correction feature when we say it out loud. (This works best if you’re a native English-speaker.)

3. Have a friend read it

Remember that comment I made how if we write it and then it’s hard to see its flaws? Kind of like how you have a child and you love them but it can be hard to admit they’re not perfect – yes, a lot of parents will disagree with me here. Well, by having a friend read it, they can give you all sorts of feedback on features you might able to see! Always helpful.

Note: Parents are helpful but can also be too close to you!

4. Step away from the story

Drop it. If you really want to, chuck it in a dark corner and come back to it later. The point is, give yourself time before editing.

5. Create biographies for your characters

Similar to #1, using your book, construct a biography filled with all the details and history you gave about “Billy Bob.” If something doesn’t match, or you’re missing information that’s still in your head, then you know what to correct!

6. Play the ‘What if’ Game

This is actually from Chuck Wendig, but I really like his suggestion. And, it’s a good way to vocalize what I do when I edit. Ask yourself ‘what if…’ for every situation. What if the reverse situation were true? What if something else happened instead? This will help make sure you pick the strongest (or most evil) trajectory for your character as possible.

7. Rewrite

I’m doing this with one of my stories now. It doesn’t mean you necessarily change anything, but just rewriting it without looking at your work sometimes brings a new perspective and life, especially if it’s been sitting there for a while and parts just feel dead.

8. Change the medium

I like the point Jenny Hansen makes. I find it difficult to read and edit on screen, and it really makes a difference to print it out and mark it up with a pen. You can color code for different kinds of tracking or edits. And, changing the look can help as well, such as changing font, size, spacing, etc.

9. Change your environment

Again, another good point by Jenny Hansen. By changing your surroundings, you can help yourself focus, or give you an environment more conducive to ideas rather than sleep.

10. Write 10 summaries

By Bryan Hutchinson, he said it’s good to write a summary in different ways. To quote him, “By telling a summarized version of your story ten different ways, you get new ideas about your book’s core essentials, who the main important characters are, which ideas are most central, and how to structure your book in the most interesting way possible.” Although it may feel repetitious at times, how much will you learn by re-examinations?

11. Hire a developmental editor

If you’ve really hit a wall, you can hire someone to help you look at your book. But, as I’ve mentioned before, these editors require money since they’re open for hire. And, this payment can vary in prices.

12. Draw a timeline

I’m going to take this idea and build on it a little bit. Bubblecow suggested we should write a narrative arc to see the clear framework of the story, but to expand upon this, I’m going to suggest that everyone write a timeline. If you want, create a timeline for every plot – but keep the same time frame for each of them. This help you examine what pieces add to the story, and what you may still be missing.

13. Do passes, not drafts

Suggested by Sullivan, I really like this for the fact it creates focus while you edit. There’s so much stress regarding editing because we’ve been taught that you should check everything at once. But, by breaking this into passes, similar to how all English teachers taught us CUPS, you will become less stressed and more focused.

If you have any more suggestions, please throw them by!

How to Edit

If anyone looks forward a post, they can see I mentioned “CUPS” – the acronym used by English teachers in elementary school to encourage proof reading, which I’m sure I will mention again in the near future. Well, CUPS is basically a ‘pass’ process, not by drafts, that encourages readers to examine their paper through different lenses. We can do the same for editing!

1. Character consistencies

When your characters first appear, just like with real life, they come across with first impressions and appearances. These should remain constant throughout your story. If Bob appears grumpy, he should remain grumpy, not suddenly become ecstatically happy, unless you gave him a reason to change. Your story is basically a persuasive essay. You have to justify everything.

2. Action, reaction

This may seem silly to include as a separate dimension of editing, but to me this is one of the most important. Your story must have emotion and affect your reader in some way. If your reader isn’t feeling anything, then you haven’t hit that point yet. A good way to start is to make sure your characters are feeling it first! Refer to the previous post on action, reactions.

3. Plot construction (and purpose)

Just like with characters, your plot should remain consistent, which will be harder and harder to track as you add sub-plots, but this means you have to examine every dimension of your story and see if it answers the question, does this add to my theme or conflict? Because everything has a purpose. And if it doesn’t, consider cutting it.

4. Style

This is one of the most common thoughts for editing. Your style must encourage readers to keep going. It must feel natural, not forced. This is not grammar editing, only overall stylistic edits. The difference between ‘he hit a wall’ and ‘when his car smashed into the wall, the front crumpled on impact’.

5. Singing Senses

These are not my own thoughts, but those of Elissa Field, and I am including them here because I feel they are an important part of the editing process. As Field said, writing is related to sight, and we should include as many sensory details as possible. But, what I love most of all is her conciseness, that “writing is overly preoccupied with details related to eyes and unnecessary sight direction. ‘He turned and looked toward the dock. The boat was on fire,’ is a great example of unnecessary sight direction. Better: ‘The boat was in flames.'”

As I mentioned, we can make this into an acronym to encourage a pass process, not a draft process. And if you look at my ordering – each first letter – this will make ‘CAPSS’. Not too far from CUPS. If you print out your manuscript like me, you can write this in the top corner and use each of these acronyms to remind yourself what to check for. It certainly will help me in the future!