You’ve hit the rewrite stage of your story; the first draft is done and now you must assess what you’ve got and figure out how to make it stronger.
Ask yourself these questions to prompt your rewrite.
Is it compelling?
Evaluate your concept. Does it inspire the reader to not just wonder what happens, but does it compel the reader so they MUST FIND OUT what happens? Does your first act sing? Does the intersection of character, happenstance, and conflict force me to turn the page?
Is your entry point and POV spot on?
Who tells the story? Is it 1st person? Why? Is it 3rd person? Why?
Have you begun the story early enough, so the reader has just enough information, and late enough that it doesn’t bog down? Why did you choose this spot to begin? Is detail parsed out as the reader needs it or is it in a big clump?
Have you crippled your characters? In storytelling, you should!
Everyone has weaknesses; everyone needs to grow and change. Have you chosen your weaknesses to compliment with other characters or conflict with them? Both are necessary; some characters will have strengths to compensate other’s weaknesses. Others should clash. Examine your main characters for compatibility and conflict.
Everyone should grow, decline or e change from beginning to end (everyone should have their own arc, some large, some small depending on the size of the role).
Is it inevitable and unavoidable?
Does the main character have to do what he/she does? If not, why doesn’t he/she quit? If characters aren’t compelled, they would quit when the going gets tough. The only reason they won’t quit is because they can’t. Are your characters isolated in some manner so they can’t ask for help? If not, why don’t they? Boundaries can be physical, mental, emotional, or relational.
Is your antagonist strong enough?
Antagonists push the protagonist to action. They up the stakes, adding suspense and tension. A weak antagonist can’t make the protagonist active.
Do your villains have a reason?
While villains don’t have to be evil, they do have to be motivated or we won’t believe them. Make it something the reader can understand so complexity increases (in Black Panther, the villain wasn’t wrong; his motives were good; his tactics were wrong).
Have you burned the Status Quo?
People must change; roles must change; THINGS must change or what’s the point of the story?
Is everyone wearing boxing gloves?
Conflict is essential to story; every scene comes alive when there is conflict. Make your people clash! We are also worlds within ourselves, so internal conflict can be compelling.
Is your prose crunchy?
Avoid vanilla language. Without overwriting, make your voice and word choices unique. It shouldn’t pull your reader out of the story, but it shouldn’t lull them to sleep, either.
Does the ending make sense?
While your ending should be inevitable and logical, it should also be surprising or satisfying. Does the ending fulfill the “question” at the beginning?
These are important rewrite questions. Use them to guide your review. You might even go so far as to use symbols, highlights, or font color to identify the heavy hitters of conflict, change, and language use. We should see those in every scene at some layer or another. If there is no conflict or change, what is the scene doing there?
One thought on “Editing Questions”
Thank you for this post. I’m sure I’ll be referring to it this month.