In the final throes of editing ‘Raddy and Syl, and i came across a little list I made for myself some time ago, a little set of reminders:
I must not
- fall in love with my characters
- pile on word on word, clause on clause, heap up adverbs and adjectives – clean and clear descriptions!
- list every tiny detail when describing something – tiny detail is good, but readers have imaginations too!
- allow conversations to be written down verbatim (ok, they are in my head, but in my head I can hear every interjection, repetition, non-phatic communion)
- have purposeless characters – yes to people who set the scene in a pub for example, but no to people who suddenly disappear from the plot for no reason and are never heard of again
- hurry to finish the story because I’m fed up with it – if I am, the reader will be, and if they’re not, they will know what I’m doing!
- have too many coincidences
- have too many sub-plots – why not use some for another story?
- make sure the reader knows what the main character looks like if they are the narrator, or if the narrative is told only from their point of view
- check the pace of the story – I’m not Dickens so I cannot deviate into wonderfully written highways and byways, I have to get to the action (not necessarily physical action, but some forward move in the plot)…
- … and although I need climaxes and crescendos, I must make sure the build-up is not too long and tedious – I am not Tolstoy!
- consider my reader; if they have taken the time not just to get hold of my book but to read it all the way through (despite any errors which have crept in through my self-editing, and the Kindle gremlins who throw in strange punctuation and swap letters around) then at the end, even if it is not a totally happy ending, it must be a satisfactory ending, and there must be a possibility for the characters to continue with the reader to make their own personal conclusion