Looking at your book critically is tough, and knowing whether you're doing it correctly is even harder, even with the advice of your critique partners. Sometimes you have so much differing advice that you can't see the woods for the trees. Sometimes you have so little feedback you don't have a clue what to even consider. So what do you do when you want to analyze and edit your book successfully? While I can't read everyone's individual book to give my opinion, I do have a few techniques that help my book improve through each editing round.
One of the most important things to me is the emotion that comes through from your character. Pull your character out of the story. I mean really look at what your character would be like if they didn't have a plot to follow. Who are they? If you met them on the street and you didn't know them, in which way would they reveal their personality? No one gives away everything about themselves the minute they meet another person. Things come out gradually. You get to know each other. Trust each other before you divulge more. Look at a real life situation of the last person you met. How did that go? What made you connect with them the moment you met? What took your attention? Why did you eventually trust them? Pinpoint those moments as best you can. Then compare that to your character and apply the same process. Once you've done that, you've taken your first step.
Next, I look at the plot and draw up a list of bullet points of everything that's happened. I can now look at my character and take that information I just learned and see where and when they would reveal themselves. I can see which plot elements would affect their emotions and I can see how they would react. Where they would clam up like a shell. Where they would trust the reader to give away a little bit more of themselves. A reader/character relationship is about trust. The reader must trust the character, but the character must equally trust the reader. While most characters don't realize there is a reader (unless you use certain narrative devices), you still have a two-way relationship going on. That's what shows why and where the character feels/does/reacts to the plot in the way they do. In this way it becomes authentic and real.
There are a lot of other elements to look at when analyzing your novel, but, for me at least, this one is the most important. Your character, emotions, and plot create the core of the story. This is what your readers care about most, and they are inextricable from each other.
I hope this has helped, but as always, take what works for you, and junk what doesn't. Don't follow every piece of advice blindly. This is my view, and if it resonates with you, I am all the more glad.
Happy revising my loyal readers, and I'm rooting for your continued success!
Friday, 13 January 2017
How to analyze your book successfully
Fiona McLaren is a displaced Scot living on the sunny island of Cyprus. She's an author, scriptwriter, and editor. She works alongside Cornerstones Literary Consultancy U.S., and also takes on freelance editorial work. The most important things in her life are her boys, her family, and her partner...and lots and lots of books! She's represented by the wonderful literary agent Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon Associates.