11 November 2009

Watch Out for those Weak Spots!




This week we're talking about the editing process, using the loose analogy of roof repair. I'm using this as my cathartic release from all the noise and the strangers who stared at me whenever I walked outside last week.

The thing about roof repair is that it's dangerous! One wrong move and we could fall off the house. Or if the roof is bad enough, we could fall right in.

One huge part to the editing process is going through and finding the weak spots, asking the hard questions and seeing if the stories will hold up the scrutiny. The truth is, if we don't do it someone else will. And that will hurt a whole lot more. But if we add reinforcement and re-structure those soft spots, the manuscript will be solid.

I think we all cringe to think of possible weak places in our stories. Whether it's probability factor (can I really stand on a California beach and watch the sun rise over the ocean?--JUST KIDDING!) to the parts of writing that aren't our strengths. I definitely have areas I really have to keep working on. My biggest weakness is dialogue. I really struggle with it. It's not fun for me to write. As a reader, I prefer non-dialogue. One of my novels back in the day was nothing but commentary. It was fun to write but didn't make for a very strong manuscript. Needless to say, it's gathering dust under my bed for many reasons, that being one of them. I struggle writing dialogue. With every book it gets better--and the more time I spend editing, the stronger those scenes get--but any success in those areas is hardfought, more so than the parts where my fingers fly over the keyboard and nail it on the first draft.

Does your manuscript have weak places? How do you try to fix them?

For me, it comes with re-writing. It's very tedious, but the more I sit and re-hash a scene, the deeper into it I get. And while I still want to improve my dialogue writing skills, I'm already seeing stronger conversations between my characters.

See y'all Friday!




By the way, to those of who you commented last week saying that dialogue is your strength, will you consider posting about it in the future? We'll all thank you a million times over. We need your help! Or at least, I do. :0)


***Image found on Google Images***

25 comments:

  1. I think I share your problem. But it runs deeper, the shifting back and forth between the dialogue and the narrating. Good to know I'm not alone.

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  2. I struggle more with description, but dialogue is tough for me too. When I start in on my revisions, I feel like every area is a weak spot. :(

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  3. Just dropping in to say hello, dear friend. You offer some good advice for writers out there... maybe one day I'll consider a book, but not in the near future. Thanks for all you do :)

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  4. Amen about the rewriting! My rough draft is always one GIANT week spot. I just need to get the story down on paper, then I spend more time revising and rewriting than I did writing the rough draft. I always have to remind myself of this when I'm in the midst of writing a rough draft (like right now)

    Great post, Kristen!

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  5. Usually I'll craft and piece by focusing on character development and plot that's advanced through dialogue. During rewrites I plump the setting.

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  6. My settings need work, my flow and seamlessness need work. Grammar...let's not go there. :D
    ~ Wendy

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  7. Dialogue comes easily to me...it's setting I have to work at.

    Sounds like a good post topic for the future!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  8. I seem to know which parts of my ms are strong and which parts are weak. I try to avoid it -- try to ignore it -- but that nagging feeling always brings me back to rewriting those weak parts. Hopefully, the revision is an improvement :D

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  9. Every area will be a weak spot when I begin rewriting. I love dialogue because I love chatting. It's the weaving in between that stumps me.

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  10. I definitely still struggle with the show don't tell aspect. Often times I can fix it as I edit but other times my critique partners help point it out to me.

    I think dialogue is easier for me because it's the most natural way to show, not tell. And it's fun!

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  11. I wish my whole novel could be dialogue. I love it. I don't quite know if I know how to explain in a post what makes strong dialogue, but I could try if you'd like!

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  12. Love that picture. I should frame it up while I do my edits. I suppose my story has its weak points It's part of editing I have to put on my detective hat and find them. Once I found a huge hole in one of my stories, that was a huge bummer but all is well now ;)

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  13. I hate weak spots! I'm always afraid I'll miss one too. Bleck.
    I love dialogue but I've been told it's stilted. LOL So I need to work on it too.

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  14. I know that feeling, Susan! I have to be intentional about encouraging myself... reminding me that I can do this, I do know how to write, and someone will want to read this one day...

    Thanks, DreamDancer, for your friendship! I really appreciate you!

    Yeah, I understand, Katie. I think every time I set out to write a novel I conveniently forget how much time actually goes into it!

    Tess, I know that nagging feeling all too well! I'm trying to ignore it right now. It's not working. :0)

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  15. "Show don't tell" trips me up too, Cindy. I feel like my English degree was all about telling. I'm trying to "un-learn" all the things that made me successful in college--not fun!

    Hey, Donna! Thanks for coming by! It's great to meet you. I'd love to know what you think about writing dialogue.

    Finding holes aren't fun, T.Anne. I'm glad you found it!

    We can work on it together, Jessica. I'm sure we'll figure it out.

    Thanks, everyone! I love hearing what all of you are thinking. And CONGRATULATIONS to Katie Ganshert, who got the call this weekend! WOOHHOOOO!!!

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  16. I like dialogue, but I'm no expert at, though I do get good comments from my crit partners every once in a while. The trick for me when writing dialogue is to skip the boring stuff. Keep the dialogue that goes on the page high interest. It's really amazing how many boring lines can be simply eliminated and as a reader you don't feel them missing at all.

    If you write a true conversation down verbatim, then trim away at it to get to the interesting stuff, you'll be amazed at how it shines, Kristen.

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  17. Keep on keeping on. Write your way out of it girl. That is how I approach all those areas of my work that need work. I keep writing :)

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  18. That's great advice, Eileen! THANK YOU! I'm definitely going to use that as a lens when I return to editing.

    Thanks, Tabitha. I hope you had a good Wednesday and were able to spend much needed time with God.

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  19. My weakness is telling not showing. I'm trying to read some books that are good at showing....to learn from them. After I read, I go back over what I wrote and try to make the scenes come alive by removing certain passive words and painting the scenes more. I'm great at dialogue though.

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  20. As many times as I'd read over my manuscript, when my agent was reading it, she noticed something I never did. I was describing something that had happened in an antebellum mansion and I actually said she heard the doorbell ring. DOORBELL!!! I couldn't believe I'd missed that!

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  21. I find it amazing that I can find something I need to fix every time I read my manuscript.

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  22. Ha, Stephanie! That's awesome!!! Those are definitely the kind of "oops" I make!

    I know, Patti! Sometimes it never seems to end.

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  23. My first draft is always such a mishmash and it takes several runs through it to strip and refurbish. I have to work extra hard on setting because I tend to see it my own head and forget that the reader can't mind-read it from between the lines! Dialogue is easier for me, especially when I am right inside the head of a character I've gotten to know really well.

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  24. My issue is that I get too lost in the dialogue. I love writing it. I love having my characters interact. I LOVE writing conflict scenes where everyone is at each other's throats, yelling, screaming, insulting. I have to step away from the riot and make certain I show the reader what everyone looks like, little nuances that will show them how angry they are and not just tell them.

    J

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  25. Thanks for the great post. My husband is a carpenter and he and my son are doing a roofing job this weekend. Hmmmmm. You got my attention now! My weak spots. My primary weak spot is not getting my manuscript finished! But truly, I need to really consider this and spend some time looking for holes and softspots and get to editing.

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