It’s Editing Tip Tuesday!

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

I hope everyone had a very nice Thanksgiving. I’m trying to get back into the swing of work this week, but I’m still suffering from Turkey Coma. (That’s a real thing. Ha ha.)

I’m a big believer everything happens for a reason. Probably because it lets me think there’s some sense of control in the world. Random activity is a scary thing for me.

And random activity in your novel is also a scary thing. Events cannot happen willy nilly. Everything in your novel must be there for a reason. And the reason can’t be, “But Stacey, I needed that to happen!” You might need your character to get across a lake in a boat, but if you told us the last boat on the lake was in 1920 and its 2016 a boat can’t randomly appear for your benefit.

Nope. You’ll have to explain there was an ordinance in place because a young man drowned in that lake never allowing boats to sail there again. Your main character can’t swim, and it would take too darn long to walk around the lake. If he’s going to save the maiden in time he needs a boat so he’s been planning, since the maiden’s kidnapping which is your inciting incident and happening early on in the story, on how to get a boat in the lake. The boat can’t just appear. Or, a long lost relative can’t show up on the scene with that boat. Too convenient. Your character has to fight and kick for that boat knowing if he doesn’t get it in the lake in time, that maiden is going to die. Got me?

Leave random acts for kindness. For your novel, every word counts. Say it with me, EVERY WORD COUNTS.

Any questions?


Editing Tip Tuesday. Yes, I know it’s Thursday.

penandpaperThe Outline

Some writers outline and some make things up as they go along. I’m the first kind because when I try to be the second kind I end up down a giant, dark hole with no way out except for the use of the delete button. That’s a scary place to be for me.

I created a formal template of the outline I used on my last novel, The Second Chance House, and thought I’d share the outline with you. My novel is out in submission now, let’s keep our fingers crossed it finds the right home. I would like to use the outline again when I begin the second book in the series. Because I had done much of the work upfront, there was much less to edit on the back end. Oh, there was stuff to edit for sure, but I wasn’t trying to claw my way out of the black hole like I had in the last novel in my middle-grade series, Welcome To Skull Mountain

The outline is not mine alone. I took pieces from gay romance author Damon Suede, (Damon is a fantastic writer and very funny. I’ve sat through several of his workshops.) And I took pieces from Cathy Yardley’s book Rock Your Plot. I like Cathy’s simplistic approach to explaining writing.

Here’s what I came up with:

Inciting Incident: The moment that changes the hero/heroine forever. Nothing is the same after this moment.

Plot Point One: Protagonist takes on the problem, but has no idea how to go about handling it.

Midpoint: Protagonist seems on the verge of achieving goal until everything falls apart. The protagonist is now proactive instead of reactive to the inciting incident. He/she can only be proactive by learning something new. The midpoint is a time to increase conflict.

Plot Point Two: Protagonist pushed into the spot from which success seems impossible. This should be the last big reveal of information and sets up the protagonist for the big dramatic conclusion. (You can’t reveal info after this point that hasn’t been set up already. Nothing can come in as a surprise to solve the problem.)

Black Moment/Climax: The worst possible thing has happened to the protagonist. All must seem lost at this point and the goal of the novel must seem unattainable.

Resolution: The breather. The world is restored to order and the protagonists can take a deep breath, and enjoy reaching their goal.

The outline is overly simplified, but it kept me on track. I filled in the blanks for every plot layer and subplot I had making sure every thread wound up at the climax of the story. This way the black moment effected everyone’s goals.

An outline might not speak to you. That’s okay. There is no right or wrong way to write a book. Find the method that works and try it. You may have a different method for each book you write. That’s fine too.

Any questions?