Monday Madness & Revision Tip #14

My local paper ran an article yesterday about my reaction to the recent book challenges. The photographer who came up here to the Forest got a great shot of the magic window. (For the record, I just turned 48 years old, not 49. Geesh.) It is rare that the part of my brain that writes for teens has a collision with the part of my brain that writes historical fiction, but the book I’m working on now, FORGE (yes, Virginia, it is the next book after CHAINS…… and you heard correct, it should be out next fall) is causing that to happen more and more. It’s rather fascinating. Take the quote I stumbled upon yesterday, from the journal of Continental Army Surgeon Albigence Waldo: "Provisions and Whiskey very scarce. Were Soldiers to have plenty of Food and Rum, I believe they would Storm Tophet." Monday morning quiz: which one of my YA novels does Dr. Waldo’s quote connect to? (answer is at the end of today’s post) Revision Tip #14 Ever run into one of those chapters that just won’t jump through the right hoops? You try cutting it out, but that doesn’t work. You change the setting, the dialog, the plot points, and the character focus. You change the color of the sun. Nothing works. Try this. Back up three or four chapters. Read them very carefully. Where is the set-up to the action in your Problem Chapter? What do you mean there is no set-up? Does the action of your Problem Chapter happen like a bolt of lightning? Probably not. It needs to come inevitably from the flow of your story. Something happened earlier to trigger the Problem Chapter. The key to fixing it lies in those earlier chapters. That is what I spent the weekend doing. Chapter 18 needed to become two chapters. That was the easy part. But Chapter 19 was a big headache. I played a lot of loud music, went back to my primary sources, looked at the want ads again to see if I am qualified for any other job besides being an author, and then studied the earlier chapters. All I had to do was this: 1. Add some descriptions to the introduction of a few secondary characters in Chapter 11. 2. Pick up on those descriptions for one new paragraph in Chapter 14. (Those two changes made a bit of dialog in Chapter 17 much richer, btw. Unanticipated bonus!) 3. Now that I had planted the seeds, I could properly craft the set-up in Chapter 18. 4. And, ta-da, write the action that was so sorely needed in Chapter 19! 5. Take the stuff that Chapter 19 sets up and make sure it is dealt with in Chapters 20 – 23. Does this make sense? Today I will chase the windmill that calls itself Chapter 24. Wish me luck. ANSWER TO TODAY’S QUIZ: Dr. Waldo references Tophet in his journal entry, which means the place where children were sacrificed in ancient cultures. It is also the name of the video game that Tyler Miller plays in TWISTED. (Yes, that was deliberate on my part.)
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4 Comments

  1. Posted December 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Nice article, and that video of your cottage—AMAZING! That is one loving husband you have there. May you have many many years of writing inspiring and provocative fiction in that room of yours!

  2. Posted December 14, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Kudos to Tobin and Berry for a great article and gorgeous pictures.

  3. Posted December 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    The Tophet video game brought about one of my favorite lines in TWISTED. After Tyler’s grades go down from all the time he spends playing the game, he says, “You have to make sacrifices if you’re going to get anywhere in Hell.”

  4. Anonymous
    Posted December 25, 2009 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    tophet

    I JUST read Twisted (within the past week) and I was so very tempted while reading this post to raise my hand and say, “OH! OH!! I KNOW that one!!”

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