Editing Lesson No.1

Every single character must have a profile.

First I’ll give you a little bit of background to ‘Unit 16’. A couple of years ago, not long after I first started writing, I wrote a short scene.  Perhaps I should explain, I get ideas/scenes and need to get them down. Most of the time I don’t do anything with them but occasionally I do.

I liked what I had come up with and had always planned to take it further.  Two years later, I did.  This scene became the prologue for ‘Unit 16’.

When I wrote the piece it was exactly as I imagined in my head.  Which is fine, until you make a story from it.  Because the characters were not fleshed out I spent some time addressing that.  Except for one of them.

This particular character dies on page one of the prologue.  I thought to myself, why does he need a profile?  He doesn’t live beyond the first couple of paragraphs, it’ll be a waste of time. That would have been fine if he didn’t have any influence on the rest of the story.  He does.

That led to the minor (ish) crisis that was the subject of last week’s blog.  Fumdamental questions were not asked; Who is this guy?  What does he do?  Why is he about to be killed?

Answering those questions is what I’ve been trying to achieve last week.  Unravelling this character has helped pin down the time period of the prologue.  Having thought long and hard about it it looks like I can potentially keep the year as it is but possibly change locations.  It feels such a relief that I can essentially keep things as they are!

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Plot Holes

How I wish I had the literary equivalent of a plaster which I could apply to any plot hole to cover them up.  Alas there is no such thing which leaves me the difficult task of correcting the error.

Plot holes are fine and dandy when they are small but when they look like they could scupper the entire story, then you have a problem.  That’s what I’m facing now and I’m not finished editing the Prologue yet!

For some reason I decided to peg my story in the real world.  Okay, so its a fictional story but what surrounds it is real.  The problem comes when reality doesn’t quite match up with what you have in your head.

The best way to get around it is to do more research until you find firmer ground.  In the last couple of days I have been lucky enough to find some, however, it is nebulous at the moment.  For one thing it brings the prologue forward by five years.  The second issue revolves around the location.  The world can change a lot in five years.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, after all the next firm ground occurs a further seventeen years into the future.  Picking that would incur a whole host of problems (aka re-writes).  I have already come to the conclusion that the more I edit, the more I have to learn.

 

 

Photo from shutterstock.com

Updates

I’m excited to announce that my story is officially in editing!  Well, it would be except, you know, life and all.  I have done some editing, honest.  I have the pieces of paper with pencil markings all over it and everything.

Being a little more serious (me?) I learned a lot about editing when tackling The Pink Salamander.  Sure it’s hard writing a story but I tell you what, editing requires a completely different mindset.  For a start you need the story needs to make sense.  While I have only tackled the Prologue (I’m editing chapter by chapter simply because any other method would be too much), I’ve spotted a few plot holes and things that could be improved.

In my haste to listen to my muse and get the story down I got caught up in flow.  It felt good at the time (don’t get me wrong, you need this as a writer!) but it left a glaring error which entailed a fairly large re-write to remove it.  With that out of the way I concentrated on other aspects and am pretty pleased with the results, so far.

As a treat I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of the first character. Before joining Unit 16 (working title, by the way, needs imporving if you ask me) Mark Ladensfield was living life through a bottle.  Mark had lost his job and his wife had left him.  To console himself, Mark routinely went to his local pub where he proceeded to drink himself stupid.

During one of these sessions a man known only as Colin challenged Mark to a contest.  In one week’s time Mark was to compete against Colin in three disciplines; observation, agility and solving three dimensional puzzles while blindfold.  With nothing to lose, Mark accepted.

He sobered up in time and completed two out of three challenges faster than Colin.  It was then that Colin revealed that Mark had taken an aptitude test for a secret organisation and offered him a position.

And that, folks, is where I’m going to leave the sneak-peek.  Goodbye for now.

 

Oh one other thing, I recently posted a link to a great TED talk about Procrastination on my Facebook page.  You should go over and check it out.  It’s both hilarious and thought provoking.