New? Begin with lesson one.
There are a couple more things you need to keep an eye out for when you're in the rewriting phase: dropped plot lines and info dumps. Even though we've talked about what info dumps are before, they can be sneaky things that pop up even when you've been trying to prevent them. Not to worry, rewrites are a perfect time to correct both issues.
How do I know if I have a dropped plot line?
Is there a part of your story left hanging at the end? If so, you have a dropped plot line.
This happens most often with subplots. It's difficult to forget the main story arc, but it can be surprisingly easy to forget about a minor story arc going in the background. Some readers might not notice, but in depth readers will catch them all the time. It can be a frustrating thing for your readers, and that makes it a problem for you.
When you find a subplot that peeters out without concluding, find a way to wrap it up in one way or another as you go back and rewrite your story. I can't tell you how to conclude your plot line because it will depend completely on the story you are writing. The important thing is that it is concluded somehow. Your only other option is to cut the subplot as a whole.
What if this story arc isn't supposed to be finished until another book?
Things get more complicated when you're writing a multiple story arc, but you still need to wrap up the plot line. People get irritated with cliff hangers, especially for series in which different "episodes" are months or even years apart. Plus, you run the risk of something happening to you and the story never reaching a conclusion. Wrap up your plot lines!
The key with multiple story arcs is concluding them for the "episode." You can hint at them planning something else, but whatever it is the characters involved were trying to do in the story has to be concluded one way or another.
Ack! I found an info dump. What do I do?
Take a look at the information in the offending info dump. Is it necessary to the story or not? Does it have to be included at this junction or can it be spread out in other places? Does it sound natural here? Is it redundant? All these questions can play a role in deciding what to do with the info dump.
If you've already touched on the same information elsewhere or it isn't necessary to the reader's understanding or enjoyment of the story, just cut it. You may be amazed at how much excess verbiage you can stick into your rough draft without realizing it. If there's one thing I've learned over the past few years, judicious cuts can strengthen your story like nothing else.
If the information is necessary and feels natural where and how it is included, simply trim it down as much as possible. The occasional, small, info dump isn't necessarily a bad thing if it's written well. However, if the information would be more helpful or natural sounding included elsewhere, move the information in question there. Remember, any changes in order or placement are best handled in this phase.
This concludes the rewriting portion of our course. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to jump in and discuss them in the comment section below. Thank you for reading, and I hope you will join me here again on October 12 as we begin looking at the editing phase.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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