Monday, September 28, 2015

What Is My Manuscript Missing?

My work in progress is a sequel, a scripture-based novel that spans about fifteen years of time for one main character and her son as he gets old enough to serve in the army. Karlinah has goals and fears as she struggles with righteous living, love, and adventures that  follow Book of Mormon events. The characters are rich and the events are worth telling, but there has been something lacking to connect all the threads together. Such is the difficulty when writing from one historical or scriptural event to the next.

If you've spent a lot of time on your story and still believe in it but know it has problems, find out what it's missing. You need some kind of roadmap: the dedication to study plotting (or whatever the issue), a professional editor, or experienced feedback (not from a family member).

Critters Janice, Renae, Becky. Missing Melissa
Thank goodness for my critique group to spot problems and generate ideas. They are the ones who know my story almost as well as I do. We meet in a face-to-face online setting, so along with feedback on last week's submission, we ask questions or brainstorm about previous problems and what should come next. In mulling over their suggestions, I added a new first chapter from the villain's point of view. Now I am inserting small and infrequent scenes like this throughout the story to tighten those threads that lead to a bigger event near the end. It's always fun to write scenes with villains.

After my group critiques these scenes, I'll go over the whole thing once more before they get it all at once. They'll see if I've got it all together--pacing and flow, motivations and high stakes, no plot holes, etc. Once I tweak any last fixes they catch, it's on to beta readers. My goal is to be at/near that stage by the end of the year. It will be nice to have this one off to readers by the time its prequel, Secrets of the King's Daughter, comes out in January.

Have a great week reading or writing!


Rebecca Jamison said...

I'm so happy we have our critique group. It has helped me so much.

Janice Sperry said...

amen to that!

Renae Mackley said...

Not all groups work, but when they do, it's one of the greatest tools many writers have.