How tough can it be to write a few pages? Easy peasy. In fact, I’ve already written it once: Chapter 8 of Timber beast. Two words describe it: preachy surplusage.
Elmore Leonard says “[t]ry to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”
So, as I turn Timber Beast into The God of Trees, I’m looking at each chapter, each page, each passage, and asking myself:
• what is the point of this scene?
• how does it advance the plot?
• does it have a goal?
• is there conflict on every page?
Don’t mind me, you can skip the numbered part if you like. I’m going to work out what I’m trying to do. This scene currently takes place in a classroom. Not the most exciting spot on earth.
- The point of the scene is to introduce another love interest, Liz Johnson, who is going to have the greatest impact on Nate, my protagonist.
- It does advance the plot, sort of. Without Liz, I have to find other ways for Nate to discover clues and examine issues. Liz is a prime source of conflict in the story.
- Goal…hmmm. Does just getting word count, count? No? I didn’t think so. Nate’s goal is to change the students’ minds about logging and getting away from the notion that natural is leaving the forest go fallow and Liz’s goal is to show what a putz Nate is. I know it needs work. I hate to lose this scene. It’s one of the few places the story talks about the issue of perception. How else can I illustrate that?
- Conflict. Well there’s my inner conflict. The inner critic telling me how lousy it all is. Beside that—on the pages—to get conflict, Liz has to be on each page, throwing verbal bombs. In the Timber Beast manuscript, it’s told in third-person from Liz’s point of view. The conflict there comes from Liz’s conflict in being drawn to Nate and hating what he is talking about. I’m working The God of Trees in first-person and trying to go from Nate’s PoV. I will try changing it to Liz’s and see if that helps. It means the reader has one more character’s voice to get to know and will lessen the sympathy for Nate.
Hi, welcome back, Skipper. The noise you hear is just the lapidary barrel in my head working off the rough spots in the story.