Writing a fictional story can be a daunting task for any writer. Choosing the right words and effectively developing characters are ways to attract your readers, and editing your drafts can help you achieve that goal. You want to be able to clearly add value with each sentence of your writing so that your readers do not get frustrated and turn away.
However, there may be times that your writing doesn't flow because of some editorial problems, and you may not know how to address them. Proofreading and editing your drafts is essential to grabbing your reader's attention and keeping your reader gravitated toward your writing. Without using either tool, readers will likely go to a new source for their amusement.
Here are some common editorial problems that can be found in fiction and how you can quickly fix them yourself and get your writing to flow again.
1. The Use of Mixed Verb Tenses
The verb tenses are past, present, and future. The ones that are most frequently used for fiction, nonfiction or any other type of writing are past and present. Mixing any tenses together will confuse your readers because they are trying to follow along with the timing setup. Keeping the verb tense consistent throughout an extensive writing can be challenging, but here is a solution.
Identify the initial verb tense. If you originally choose to write in the past, then stick with that. Check your drafts for tense inconsistencies. If you find any sentences that have "will do something" or "runs away," change them to reflect past action. This will help keep your readers focused on your writing and not distracted by questions they have about your writing skills.
2. Unfinished Scenes
Scenes are designed to transfer the reader between different times within the same fictional work, but an unfinished scene can confuse a reader. Unfinished scenes can cause plot errors that your readers cannot read past. You should not leave your readers unable to connect the dots in each scene to figure out the plot of your writing. If you leave out some of those dots, your readers will give up trying to understand your writing.
To prevent yourself from writing unfinished scenes, read through your writing and find out where each scene is supposed to begin and end. If you find any discrepancies between any two scenes, try to figure out ways to interweave the scenes so that no plot errors are found. Review and edit your scene until you are able to properly transition between each scene.
3. Time Gaps in and Between Each Scene
Breaks of time can be beneficial if you want to skip the uneventful parts of the plot, but knowing how much time is too much is key to preventing extensive time gaps. If you want your entire story to happen in one day, you probably do not want to write about events that take more than a day to complete or occasions that drag into the next day. Time gaps should be realistic but not contribute to a plot hole.
To fix any time gap errors, read through each scene and find the lines that are related to time that draw your attention. If you find a snippet that you have written previously in your work that is boring to you, such as how your character stands before each the start of a fight, simplify the action by replacing it with only action. Write the aftermath of what occurs in that small plot for the scene. When you advance to the next scene, make sure that the time gap between each scene makes sense, like a clock displaying two in the morning and then displaying eight in a later scene rather than displaying the reverse. Much like plot, time should flow continuously.
4. Explaining Too Much of the Plot
Your plot and your writing is what can attract readers, but you may explain certain elements that your readers do not need you to explain. Your readers are smart and want to figure things out for themselves, so do not spoil any surprises.
If you want to figure out where you are spoiling yourself, read each line thoroughly and assess what you already know. If you find that what you already know has been explained in the writing, delete it and move to the next line.
These are only a few editorial problems, but many others may arise with simple and feasible solutions. Just know that these mistakes are common but easy to fix with a few key editing sessions. Become comfortable with editing your own writing and even have someone else help you. All together, their critique can help you improve your writing skills for your readers.
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Read More Fiction from Stacey Carroll
Kidnapped by the Sanchez, thrown into the backseat of a black Cadillac and hit in the head, Avia is on her own when it comes to escaping her captors and returning to her uncle’s La Pryor ranch. However, she is determined to escape from the blood-covered backseat and disgusting garage where Xavier and Jamie Sanchez have decided to hide after realizing their car’s radiator is leaking.
In the meantime, Benton has been rushed to the hospital suffering from a deep bullet wound to the shoulder. Upon waking from surgery, he is dismayed to learn that Avia is still missing. He demands to be released in order to find her but is refuted by Brian, who tells him that he must stay in the hospital until he’s healed enough to go home. In an effort to calm Benton and to alleviate his own fears about where Avia is and what might be happening to her, he tells Benton that he will go look for her.
Unbeknownst to Benton, Brian has ulterior motives for finding Avia. Her kidnapping has brought to the forefront a barrage of emotions that the Company hitman has yet to deal with, but one this is certain, he can’t stand the thought of losing Avia.