© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved
Have you ever gotten to a point in your writing when the words blur together? They're coming out onto the page, but without direction?
I’m working on the final edits of a novel I’ve titled SHROUD OF LIES. The edits were going well until I reached a scene that involves my PI, Rhonie Lude, questioning the woman she’s been paid to investigate.
The chapter started off fine, but quickly got bogged down with lengthy descriptions and long stretches of dialogue that had gotten lost on their way to making a point. The worst part was that I knew there was a problem with the scene, but no matter how many times I read it, I still couldn’t "see" it.
When this happens, I find that reading the text out loud often helps. For some reason, this time it didn't. I decided to take it a step further and recorded myself reading the chapter. I wasn’t concerned about the tone of my voice or how many times I tripped over words. All I was listening for was the flow—did the set of questions and answers I’d given the characters make sense? Was the interaction between the characters tense enough to make the reader turn the page? The minute I played it back I knew what worked, what needed to be moved, and what had to be cut. This is were the real test of your nerve will come into play. Ruthless edits and cuts are often the sure cure for a chapter section that drags.
Next time you can’t pinpoint the problem in a chapter, record yourself reading it. You’ll be amazed at how quickly problems like repeated words, awkward phrases, excessive use of pronouns and inappropriate punctuation will jump out and beg to be fixed.
To listen to this video tip go to Novel Works and scroll down to the bottom of the page!
About the author:
THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (2008), Bronze Medal Finalist, 2009 IPPY Awards, Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).