I recently had the good fortune of having my manuscript professionally edited, courtesy of a NIWA drawing. I learned some things that might be of interest to other NIWA members.
I learned that reader interest can lag when there is “head hopping.” My opening chapter begins with the story told from the perspective of a grandfather, but at the very end of the chapter we see the grandfather from his granddaughter’s point of view. I can fix this “head hop” easily. I just didn’t know to watch out for this particular writing oops.
The editor also suggested that I write out a notecard for each scene and run a colored marker across the top, coded one color per character. I can then spread out the cards and see how the scenes flow in each chapter. In my case the scenes in some chapters came across as too choppy and it was suggested that I stitch together some of the scenes. I was advised that short chapters could work once we are well into the story, but very short chapters are distracting in the front half of a novel.
Finally, it was gently suggested that I take a look at the setting of my characters’ witty repartee. I had some clever banter going at a high terror moment and I hadn’t handled it deftly. Ouch! I quite liked my heroines pluck and cleverness but poorly placed is poorly placed. In the future I will look at clever exchanges with a more critical eye to make sure the verbal candy works. Writers are often advised to “kill your darlings,” and I may have to do in a darling or two to get my story fixed.
Thank you, NIWA, for making this learning opportunity possible!
For more on “Kill your darlings,” see this story:
Contributed by Ellen King Rice