Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Editing HIDDEN: Step 4 - Declaring WARS

Now that I have all of my note cards labeled, it's time to declare WARS.

W - Want
A - Action
R - Resolution
S -  Surprise

I'll be analyzing the chapter description on each note card to make sure it aligns with my WARS strategy.

Everyone in publishing says to keep your stories tight. Leave out the extraneous junk, right? The WARS strategy, coupled with the note cards, helps you do this.

W - Want: Your character should want something in each chapter. Have a goal in mind to propel them forward. That's much preferred to reading about George,
Courtesy of Microsoft Office Clipart
sitting in a blue armchair, contemplating a squirrel. Unless, of course, your plot has something to do with the zombie apocalypse and an infected squirrel, which just happens to be George's focus of study.

A - Action: Once you know what your character wants in the chapter, take some action! George slips into his super-secret infectious disease lab hidden in his basement. There, he constructs a trap, designed to capture the squirrel while minimizing risk to himself.

R - Resolution: Resolve your character's want. George sneaks outside, sets an acorn in the trap, waits...and...SUCCESS! George has trapped the infected squirrel and he can now begin studying the virus.

S - Surprise: Don't let your reader relax. Everyone loves a good page-turner. End each chapter with some kind of lead-in to the next. It doesn't have to be a complete shocker or cliffhanger each chapter, but give your reader a reason to keep reading. You know what's coming, right? Poor George, despite all of his precautions, he gets bit by the zombie squirrel.

This is a critical step in the editing process. Not just because you want to make sure your chapters have proper internal structure, but also because this will affect everything coming up next.

What happens if you declare WARS on a chapter and you can't identify all four aspects? Look at what came before, or what comes next. Sometimes you can combine chapters and sometimes you need to rethink the chapter completely.

Once you've successfully completed these steps for each chapter, you'll find you have a solid base for the next step in my editing process.



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