Monday, December 28, 2009

Think Big Picture

First of all, I know what many of you are thinking. "What are you doing up at 2 am? Look, I had work to do so I started early. I'll see how long I can go.

I have seen a lot of manuscripts lately that are all suffering from the same problem. It seems that writers are not looking at their story in the big context of things. In other words, they have a serious of great little scenes that have clearly been worked over and edited, but when we read the story as a package, things really fall apart. It seems that the author forgot to see how everything fits together.

Don't worry, this is a common problem writers have and it stems from the simple fact that we write in short increments of time. We forget what we did early on and then write a scene that can be completely different from what we set up before. I will also say that I have seen writers also do this with books in a series. One of my authors will frequently call me and ask if I remembered what color the hero's eyes were in book 1. While this is a small point, it is an issue.

As you write, try to think of your story as a package deal. The story and the characters are living in a real world that is three dimensional. Things happen around them and they need to respond accordingly. Think of it this way. If you set a story in New Oreleans after Hurricane Katrina, how would the place look and how would people react. As an author, you have to make sure all of the pieces of the puzzle are working together to give the reader the full perspective of things.

Also, as you write, remember what you said about your characters in the narrations, and remember what your characters did and said in early pages. If you stated your character was overly focused on his or her business, then the would not do something later on the book that should contradict that. For example, they wouldn't act carefree if the business was suddenly losing money.

There are two solutions to this. The first one is the one all of you pantsters hate - PLOT. Figure it all out in advance. This might also involve using files that describe each of the characters and your location. The second is even easier. Go back and re-read your prior chapter before you sit down and write the next one.

O.K. I think I might be getting tired now so I am off to catch some zzzzz's

Night, night.


1 comment:

  1. So true. When I went back to revise my second book, I realized it was a collection of scenes and didn't have an overall story to tie it together.

    But I think it's more than looking at the big picture--it's understanding what 'story' is. When I've critted and pointed out that there doesn't appear to be a story, the immediate responses is: "Of course there is!" It is very easy to focus on what happens without having anything to tie it together.