I realize I left out a very important possible pass in the Rewriting post: the Subplot Pass.
You can improve any book or script by doing a pass through of each subplot: the love plot, the villain’s plot, the rival’s plot, the main ally’s subplot (oh MAN, do I wish more films would do an ally subplot pass…). Meaning, just take the scenes with that particular character and see how that plot builds and climaxes and arcs just on its own. There is no way that you won’t find more layers to a character, interesting plants and payoffs, great dialogue even, by looking just at that one subplot in isolation.
Try thinking like an actor: it’s a cliché, but part of the craft of acting as well, that every minor actor thinks of their character as the star of the show. This is a useful mindset when you’re doing character passes. Of course, you don’t want to do that for EVERY character – that convenience store clerk who has one line, even if it’s a colorful line, should be treated as the scenery he is.
But when I’m talking about subplot passes I don’t just mean character subplots.
In the YA I’m getting close to finishing, I have a LOT of dream sequences; it’s a main line of the book. So I’ve been doing a dream sequence pass – actually, I’ve been doing several - to make sure that I’m building what I want to build in that line of the story. When you look at just those scenes in isolation from the rest of the book, you will find connections and resonances that you can’t see when you’re reading the ms as a whole. Plus it doesn’t seem as overwhelming as rereading the entire book yet again.
Take one of your subplots and try it. You might put all the scenes in that subplot line in a separate Word file, and work it that way. It’s actually fun.
And while I’m filling in the gaps in the rewriting post – I might as well mention that when you’re doing that first read-through you will probably – most likely - find that you have not written the story you thought you were writing. Not just because it’s not as brilliant and dazzling as the idea of a story you had in your head (no finished product ever is, really) – but because you’ve actually written something else.
So part of rewriting is letting go of what you THOUGHT you were writing - and trying to see instead what you actually wrote, and how you can make the story that actually IS the best, the most involving, the most multidimensional experience that it can be. This also takes some acting on your part: you must look at the story as if you have never heard it before, and listen to what it is really telling you.
This idea probably should be a post all on its own, but that’s all I have time for today – I have subplot passes to do.
How about the rest of you? Is there a subplot or a subplot character in your story that could use some work?
How To Write A Novel From Start To Finish: previous posts
How to write a novel from start to finish (part one)
What is genre?
What's your premise?
The Price (more on premise)
What is High Concept?
The Dream Journal
Three-Act Structure Review and Assignments
The Three-Act, Eight-Sequence Structure
The Index Card Method and Story Structure Grid
Elements of Act One
Story Elements Checklist for brainstorming Index Cards
What KIND Of Story Is It?
Elements of Act Two, Part 1
Plants and Payoffs
Plan, Central Question, Central Action (part 1)
What's the PLAN?
Plan, Central Question, Central Action (Part 3)
Elements of Act II, Part 2
The Lover Makes A Stand (romantic comedy structure
Elements of Act Three (part 1)
What Makes A Great Climax? (Elements of Act III, part 2)
Elements of Act III, part 2: Elevate Your Ending
What KIND of story is it? (and other notes about Inception)
I have succumbed and put the Screenwriting Tricks workbook up for Nook and on Smashwords, where yes, you can finally download it as a pdf file or whatever format you want. Any version - $2.99!
- Smashwords (includes pdf and online viewing)
- Barnes & Noble/Nook
- Amazon UK
- Amaxon DE (Eur. 2.40)