Cawing about plot flaws, and how to fix them–that’s what the Dirty Birds are on about today.
Kate: This is essentially a “Here’s where you look in my book to figure out how to fix what you did wrong” section. It does include a nifty little reference chart, to help you identify the pertinent chapters.
Zoe: I enjoyed going through the chart more than I expected I would.
Kate: I like charts.
Zoe: I don’t, typically, but I had all the problems that I still need to work out on my WIP in my head, so it was a chart I engaged in…for a couple minutes at least.
Ana: I don’t really like charts either, but I liked them here. Although I have to admit I skimmed the last one because it was so long. I also wondered, if you have the problems mentioned here, would you know it? I mean, I imagine a lot of people (myself included) get this scene that something isn’t working, but can’t always pin-point it.
Kate: That was the one real weakness of this chart, that it’s predicated on you (or someone else) being able to pinpoint what the problem actually is. This is where good beta readers and good editors come into play.
Ana: Yes, I liked that ‘what to do when a scene isn’t working’ chart. I could really have used that for a certain chapter when I was writing Lab Rat’s Love. In the end, my editor helped me with it, but it would have been nice if I’d been able to fix it before submitting it.
Zoe: Ha, yes. I want to fix All The Things before submitting a story.
Kate: That’s part of our job, to make sure we fix all the things we notice, even when it’s hard. We need the beta readers and the editors to catch the things we aren’t aware of, because we have the entire story in our heads, not just the part that made it down on paper. And this is why I do my little “Angry Bird” dance when I hear people talk about, “Oh, I don’t worry about that. My editor will fix it.” NO! *rolls up newspaper*
Zoe: Right! I want my editor focused on the stuff I am incapable of seeing. I don’t waste her energy unnecessarily. That doesn’t help my story.
Kate: But once the editor points out something that isn’t working, then the chart will help you find a chapter that might have some ideas, or reminders, that will let you fix the issue. Or, if you know something isn’t working, you kind of know why, but you don’t know how to fix it, the appropriate chapter might offer a clue.
Ana: Yeah, I’ll keep it in mind when I go through my current WIP.
Kate: It’s a resource I plan to keep on hand and try out. I’m all for anything that short-circuits days of flailing and false starts.
Next week, we’ll be talking about Gimmicks and how to avoid them, then we’ll be doing our wrap-up on the book, and giving it a rating.
Ana: Dun dun dun.