Not only that, she provided some really useful, practical lists of things to do when beginning a structural edit. The lists make it all so much easier to identify parts of the story that don’t work and know what to do to fix it.
I’m a pantser. I rarely begin any plotting until I get stuck—usually around chapter 4 or 5. I rarely consider things such as theme or character arcs until I’ve written most of the story and realise it’s not working the way the nebulous images in my head suggested it would. A lot of things I do instinctively. For example, my stories usually have a clear theme, but I don’t recognise it until after I’ve finished the story.
It didn’t really surprise me that structural editing began with all those things I don’t think about until I have to: Theme/essence, central event, major dramatic question.
Those are the things I’ve been thinking about this week. I’ve been asking myself:
- What is the theme of the story?
- What central event happens that, without it, the story cannot happen? It might be something that happens before the story starts, or in the beginning section of the book.
- What major dramatic question will the reader ask at the beginning and hang on to the end of the book to get the answer for? This must be a closed question.
Theme: Good vs Evil, True Love Conquers
Central Event: The Lunar Eclipse (from Warrior Pledge)
Dramatic Question: Will Gaelan find and win his Concubine? Will Fisher be able to build a new, peaceful life for himself?
Where to from here?
I’ve been working on a scene map so I’ll finish that. I do scene maps for every book I write but I usually use them to check things such as POV balance, character consistency and emotional depth. I need to take it a step further and check the three major things against the scenes.
That’ll be one of my jobs over the next few weeks.