The good news is they are satisfied with my rewrites and agree it is a much better book. We are officially done with plot changes and rewrites (super wide & happy grin). There are still a few things we need to fine-tune, which should actually be fun since they are dealing more with writing style than content. I feel really lucky to be working with Molly Lewis, Publisher at ZOVA Books. Aside from being a super genius, she is just plain talented. She knows what she’s doing, what she’s looking for, and how to get it out of you. All of her feedback is truly eye-opening, and these most recent comments were so dead-on, I just have to share.
1. Don’t sum up dialogue or action into a generalized sentence at the end of a scene.
It seems like an obvious statement, but it happened a lot more often than I thought in my book. Maybe I was just looking for a way to wrap up the conversation or situation, but however my mind justified it at the time, the tactic didn’t make the final cut. Here is an example:
“Well I don’t agree.”
“You don’t have to. I’m still right.”
“You’re not right. You’re stubborn.”
We continued to argue until I’d had enough. I stormed out and left him alone in his room.
If the argument really did continue, what did they argue about? Write the rest of the dialogue or end it with the appropriate line and continue your story. The summary phrase, we continued to argue until I’d had enough, doesn’t provide the reader with any more detail, and it is a lazy way to transition.
2. Cut sentences that are…superfluous (my mom loves that word so I had to use it).
Veronica Roth explains it further in her blog post on Redundant Sentences. In my case, I tend to feel the need to over-explain, but us writers have to give the reader a little credit. They get it the first time they read it. There’s no need to say the same thing twice (which I kind of just did).
I felt comfortable around him, like we’d known each other forever.
Our conversations came easily, and we could talk for hours, as if he we’d been friends for years.
3. Balance internal monologue with concrete details.
This issue is something specific to the way I write. I like to be inside a character’s head. Whether I’m reading it or writing it, I just love to know what characters are feeling and thinking (That may be a redundant sentence, but I can be a repeater in my own blog right?). The problem with internal monologue during dramatic scenes is that it takes away from the action and the pacing of the story. Most of the time I want to explore what the character is feeling in such intense moments, but I have to remember to write details about the action as well.
Molly The Magnificent came up with a brilliant idea. She made note of a few scenes that had this problem and suggested that as an exercise, I write only concrete details about the action that is happening, describing step-by-step what my main character does instead of thinks. After I’m done, we can use the new scene or combine the two.
These three observations were huge for me. I'm just too close to the book to get a fresh look at it. I’ve read The Descendants about a million times by now, so a new (and highly trained and professional) perspective is exactly what I needed. I am super excited to start fine-tuning. I have until August 31st to do one last read through to tweak the writing, then off to line editing. Here we go…