Those Boots Need Polish

This morning’s writing tip of the day is brought to you by a run-and-gun military science fiction novel that could have used some more boot polish. Here is what one reviewer had to say about the book:

“The writer doesn’t really know what the story or the characters should really be. Instead it reads like a bunch of moderately disjointed story elements held together with spackle and duct tape. While it’s not the worst I’ve seen, it still had me wincing a couple too many times for me to keep going.

“Now if you’re not looking for an intense read there are still some interesting ideas lurking just under the surface so maybe your experience fairs better. But for me, this story really needed some more time to bake before being written because it’s too raw for my tastes.”

What do we take away from this? This book clearly was not ready for market. At least another edit was required for it to be ready for release. If its author is wise, he (name withheld to protect the guilty) will pull down the book and fix its faults, which are apparently not only in characterization but also in general plotting, A doesn’t naturally lead to B, etc.

Two ways to attack a poorly edited manuscript offer themselves here.

The author can sit down, write a carefully constructed bio of Johnny Hero, then review each scene to be sure that Johnny Hero and his supporting cast are all acting as might be expected under the circumstances. For example, is the timid girl or the selfish businessman really going to volunteer for what appears to be a suicide mission? And if one of them does, what’s her or his motivation? Maybe the timid girl wants to prove herself to the boy she secretly loves or the selfish businessman intends to flee at the first opportunity, leaving the others to die?

The other way to edit this draft is to carefully outline it. My guess is this author was a pantser. He went in without a clear idea where he wanted to go story-wise. He had gathered together some interesting story ideas and he just let them roll out, hoping all that running and gunning would cover up any inconsistencies/deviations in the plotting.

For anyone unfamiliar with what the reviewer means by story elements, they are: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution.

Review all of these carefully before releasing your novel onto the market. Make sure that space soldier is ready for battle.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.