Writing Tips & Tools

Monday, October 01, 2007

Lesson #11 - Proportion con't

by Bonnie Calhoun

Today we are continuing editing lessons from the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

These lessons will be shortened overviews of the chapters and by no means should be a substitute for buying the book. I'm rereading but not posting a lot of good stuff!

Let's continue with proportion. This does not mean that your work is textureless. There is always room for philosophical sidetrails that reveal the narrator's character, subplots that may resonate with the main plot, or forays into odd corners of background that make the fictional world more three-dimentional.

The trick is telling the difference between digressions that harmonize with the story (even in odd and mysterious ways) and those that hang on the story like fungus!

How do you tell...walk away from it for a week or so, and then reread it...or get a critique partner. Once you have trained yourself to see how changes in proportion affect your story, you can begin to use proportion to shape your reader's response to your plot.

Example: If you have some plot development that you want to come as a surprise, spend less space on it before you spring it on your readers. Or you could spend as much or more space on similar plot elements to mask the really important one.


Take a look at your descriptions. Are the details you give the ones your viewpoint characters will notice?

Reread your first fifty pages, paying attention to what you spend your time on. Are the characters you develop most fully important ot the ending? Do you use the locations you develop in detail later in the story? Do any of the characters play a surprising role in the ending? Could readers guess this from the amount of time you spend on them?

Do you have tanents...little supplots or descriptions that don't advance the plot? If so, are all of them effective? If you don't have any, should you add some?

Are you writing about your favorite topic or hobbies? If so, give careful consideration to how much time you spend on them.

Next we will move onto Dialogue Mechanics!


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