This is going to be a light week. For one thing, it’s the week of Thanksgiving here in the US, and most people get 2 days off from work–Thursday and Friday. Thursday is for porking out. Friday is for fighting other shoppers at the mall to launch the Christmas shopping season. Also, my birthday falls this week, so I’m going to take it just a little easier than usual.
Several of you posted good comments today. I’ll note that I’m currently writing the first three chapters for my book proposal, so I’m facing the same self-editing issues that we’ve been discussing lately. I find it helpful to do a light edit on the previous day’s work before I start writing new material. The goal is not to “make yesterday’s work perfect.” The goal is to “get into the same groove I was in yesterday so today’s work will pick up seamlessly.” This scheme works for me. Be aware that it is not the only way to do things, and for some of you it will not work.
The hardest thing for me right now is to make each chapter count. Does that make sense? I have a few chapters that just don’t push the story forward, but they provide necessary information for the plot to work. I am wrestling through them, trying to add page-turning conflict. It’s not easy, this fiction thing.
Randy sez: No, it’s not easy. Mary, you do make it look easy. When I read your work, I am always impressed. But the art of fiction is to hide the sweat stains. For each of those chapters that are not advancing the plot, I wonder if you can extract that “necessary information” and put it somewhere else. It may not be possible or necessary in your case, Mary. You are toward the literary end of the spectrum, and literary novelists have license to run the pace a bit slower. Just make sure those chapters carry emotive punch. Every chapter needs to be providing a Powerful Emotional Experience. There is never an excuse to slack off on that.
I think when we come to the end of a manuscript, the tendency is to rush through it because we just want to be done. HA! That happened to me in my second middle grade story. It was longer than my previous attempt, and I was so excited, I ended it. My writing partner said I had to add something because she could tell I was in a hurry to finish.
Randy sez: Yes, and the danger with a rushed ending is that we tend to not edit our endings as much. So a hurried ending may never get fixed, and it can leave the reader with the “huh, what happened?” feeling. I love an ending that really ends the story. I finished reading THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS today and it has a very nice ending that really tied it all together. Last week, when I finished reading NEXT by Michael Crichton, I did not feel like the story had ever really got rolling, so the ending simply was the termination of the text, rather than any kind of a summation.
I can see now that waiting to self-edit until later is a good thing for a couple of reasons, but I keep having this nagging gut feeling that if I don’t fix things right now, then I’ll end up not doing a good job later. I do leave little annotations as a reminder, but I still can’t shake that feeling. Am I being overly paranoid and/or is there a better way to handle this?
Randy sez: Editing is a highly reproducible experience, in my opinion. You are very likely to edit it as well next month as you would today. You might even do a better job next month, because you will understand your story better then and you’ll be a slightly better writer.
Maybe this is too broad a question, but how many POV’s can you get away with in a YA novel?
My main character is separated from her best friend and we need to see what’s going on with her before they are reunited.
Also, does the WHOLE scene or sequel need to be one POV?
I’m reading Dwight Swain and everything and I still am having a hard time wrapping my brain around it. In an important scene, there are many obstacles between the character and the goal. For a complex obstacle, it seems like sometimes I need someone else’s POV on it…help!
Randy sez: You can have numerous POVs in a YA novel. I would recommend less than 1000. 🙂
As for each Scene or Sequel, yes, I believe you should restrict each to a single POV. But remember that you can break after each Disaster or Decision to a new POV character. It’s possible to string together a whole series of scenes that all take place in the same place and happen one after another, each from a different POV. But remember that a Scene or Sequel has emotional unity. If a character has a Goal, then you want to show Conflict that frustrates that Goal and a Disaster that destroys the Goal. All of those are a single emotive entity, and they need to be experienced by a single POV character. Otherwise you are castrating your fiction. You read that right. As in neutering, neutralizing, emasculating, oatmealizing. DON’T DO THAT.
M.L. Eqatin wrote:
I’ve decided to add another POV for just one chapter. I came to that conclusion when I started looking at the whole from my reader’s perspective. I’m using three POVs, pretty much evenly balanced, each of which moves the story along in turn from a unique perspective that the others could not. But for this one chapter, a very revealing moment which set up the final plot crisis, the P.E.E. was much more powerful if I let the reader see inside this character’s head. And it took a lot less words than trying to show what went on through one of my 3 main characters.
Randy sez: It’s perfectly fine to add a one-shot POV character if it works. The goal is to give that Powerful Emotional Experience. Whatever it takes to do that — do it.
It’s a light and easy week, so feel free to comment on any of these, or anything else you want to talk about this week. To my US readers, Happy Thanksgiving!