28 June, 2015

Plot, and making sure it moves forward

I'm in the second draft revisions of Tragedy of Ice, and I'm taking my time with them since I have plenty of feedback from my critics to consider. And it seems most of them are in agreement about one particular issue: openings.

Something I've always known is that I have a problem starting scenes, but no trouble finishing them. Beginnings are my weakest point, whether it's chapter 1, or the opening scene to chapter 35. I'm like an old car, having to take my time to rev up speed -- though once I get there, I'm fine. But I'm having to teach myself new techniques on the go to make the openings just as active and strong as my middles and endings.

And I think it's a good thing I chose now to finally watch Attack on Titan, an anime that I've only ever heard folks rave about. Well, it does have a great premise, but the execution of the story is so poorly done that the plot stagnates and putters to a halt by the end. What muddies everything is the overuse of flashbacks (especially short-term flashbacks that could've easily been part of the linear plot 2-3 episodes earlier), side stories for characters that aren't integral to the plot (the military police side story in particular towards the end of the series), and history lessons meant to explain things about the Titans that could've easily been covered during the training episodes (again, as part of the linear plot).

So while I don't use flashbacks or side stories that deviate from my two POV characters (Franklin and Kadiza), I do have to make sure I don't stall my plot with exposition that would turn the reader off to the whole novel. It's okay that my characters experience setbacks, just like it's okay for the characters of Attack on Titan to experience setbacks, but it's important that the plot moves forward even if the characters are struggling. If everything comes to a standstill, then there's nothing to hold my interest as a writer, and by extension there's nothing to hold your interest as the reader.

I have to make sure things move forward, and that's doubly important during these second draft revisions, as I have to make sure I'm not over zealously adding new character interactions that will weigh down the plot instead of advancing it. I've got to find that perfect balance, but that's a topic for another day.

For now, I need to get back to editing, as I'm sure you're all more interested in reading the finished work rather than my ramblings about finishing the work. I'll check in again soon (still struggling to get back into a blogging groove, but Tragedy of Ice is keeping my attention laser-focused), but in the meanwhile, here's a link to HipĆ³lito's character sheet.

Until next time! :)

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Ash Litton

Ash Litton is a writer and lover of sci-fi, fantasy, and all things fictional. She is the author of Thoroughbred, Evening Hallow, Comeuppance, and Cabover Cabaret, and works on other Appalachian Dream Tales between her ongoing novel projects. She's also written No Diet, No Surgery, No Sweat, an ebook chronicling her weight-loss journey.

When she's not writing, she's drawing, and when she's not doing either of those, she's dreaming up new projects to work on. Born and raised in rural West Virginia, Ash has always wondered what things lay hidden in the hills around her. She attended West Virginia University, where she studied the English language before returning home to her family in rural West Virginia.