Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'll Drag You Along With Me, OK?

I really enjoyed the comment discussion yesterday - thanks so much to everyone who took the time to weigh in.
I'm going to keep with the editing tips for one more day because I am in the deep trenches of editing my manuscript. Hey, if I have to do all this stuff, I might as well drag a few friends along, right?

I dug this idea out from some notes/handout at a SCBWI-LA conference four summers ago. I took the time over this past weekend to apply it to my manuscript and was amazed. Truly. It's funny how we think we know our writing. We read the books, go to the conferences, take our studious notes. We ponder on the rules, remind ourselves of them as we write/edit/revise, and feel fairly certain we are on the right track.
Maybe we are. Maybe we have missed a thing or two in the flow and rush of discovering our story.
So, here it is. Think about doing it, maybe even actually do it and then let me know what came of it all.

Does your novel drag in places? Or, is it high paced and exciting for chapter after chapter without giving any reprieve to your exhausted readers?
Try this tool for analyzing:
1. Get a pink, yellow and blue highlighter. Then highlight the main plot points as follows:
BLUE for narrative and reflective areas
YELLOW for rising suspense
PINK for action and plot twists
Then stand back and see what you have written. A well paced novel has rising and falling tension - scenes with high suspense and action are tempered by scenes of investigation and reflection. Plot twists are spaced out.
If you have scene after scene coded blue, you may want to look at hiking up the tension somewhere in there. If you have scene after scene of yellow or pink, consider slicing in a little bit of reflection.
No highlighters? No problem! I used crayons from my daughter's art box. I just ran a blue, yellow or pink line down the side of the manuscript according to the pacing of the scene.
Do you think you'll ever do this? It really helped me see my novel in a more objective light.


Wendy said...

Yes, I really can see myself trying this. I like a novel to move along smoothly and think this really could help reveal the pacing of my works.

You are just filled w/ good tips! Thankful to be following your blog!!
~ Wendy

lucent1 said...

I'm not to the trenches of editing yet, but can see how this visual would really help with an objective look. I've put it in my notebook for when I get to that point!

Lady Glamis said...

Oh my goodness that's an INCREDIBLE IDEA! I love it! Yes, I'll do it, are you kidding? I love visual stuff.

Crystal said...

Tess, this is a WONDERFUL idea! As soon as I'm completely finished with my current wip, I'm going to apply this method. As Wendy said, this would help greatly with pacing as wellas showing overall balance between dialogue, action, and narrative reflection.

This will be going in my folder of Revision Tips.

Cindy said...

Another good tip. I already put your last one to use. Thanks!

Jill Kemerer said...

You can do this in your wordprocessor by highlighting the sentences and either changing the color text or the background, too. Then you can reduce your view to 50%, whiz through the book and REALLY SEE the difference!

Do I have too much time on my hands? Ha!

Tess said...

Oh, good tip, Jill!

LexiconLuvr said...

I absolutely LOVE this idea!!! Fabulous, fabulous! I'd like to link this post on my blog. Would that be okay?

Tess said...

Absolutely! Glad to see you are back :)

Windsong said...

Very nice! I love any idea that makes things more visual. I think when we see things visually, whether it's different colors or words that are highlighted through the search and find function in Word, it helps us see our stories from a different angle. Thanks for the ideas. :D

Robyn said...

Great thinking. I definitely will get the ol' highlighters out and put them to good use.The visual thing is exactly what I need! Thanks for a MAGNIFICENT post! :)