Even though best selling authors use it and there and ing and ly words all the time, and tell, tell, tell instead of show, show, show, I can't because I'm not a best selling author.
No matter how well we write or how wonderful our story is, if we don't have a track record, we can't break any rules. While reading our story, the editor or agent (or contest judge) should be able to see our characters, hear their accents, and smell the fragrance of the setting. The reader must have all the info she needs to follow our story. That's where it gets tricky. How much info is too much? I don't have a clue. I get very discouraged when I hear that readers don't like prologues, that editors don't want heros or heroines that are artists, singers, or writers. I continue to pick up novels where the heroines are artists, singers, and writers... so I guess that rule is also aimed at the unpublished. But I'm off track here. Back to revising the book.
Everyone knows that the very best thing to do before revising is to put the novel aside for at least three months. I don't know anyone who has the time to do that. I don't, and published writers can't because they're on contract and facing deadlines.
After reading Practical Tips for Writing Popular Fiction by Robyn Carr, I've designed my method of attack. During my first trip through my chapters, I'll be looking at a lot of things.
Index cards. Don't we love them?I plan to list my characters as they appear in the story. I'll note how they are introduced, what I've written regarding their appearance, names, and primary traits. This will help me keep each character consistent. I don't want Miranda to be blonde at the beginning of the story and brunette in chapter fifteen. :) Miranda talks to God a lot. Since she lives alone, he's her best friend. I've noticed that as the book progressed, Miranda didn't talk to him quite as much. I need to take a look at that.
Another purpose of the cards is to put names to very minor characters I've referred to early in the book. By chapter twelve, I'd forgotten the school secretary's name and didn't want to take the time to look her up so I have some blanks lines to fill in.
Next, I need to draw up a time line as I read. It'll begin as my story begins. The principal is out of the country, but Miranda keeps saying he'll be home next week. The weeks come and go, but he never does come back. I've devised a plan to keep him gone indefinitely since there's no need for his return, but I need to take a close look at this. Really, I have no clue how much time has passed in my story. :( Yikes! I hope I don't find a huge mess.
Next, I need to track my plot. This will include my basic plot line, all subplots, character motivations, the events that occur and any other devices used to move the story along. There can't be any loose ends.
As I read the hard copy, I'll be fleshing out, fixing dialogue, entering descriptive and sensory junk that I truly hate to read and write. Sure seems like there's a lot to do. There's much to be said for revising as we write the story. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those writers.
The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with. - William Faulkner