by Sierra Godfrey
So today when I was working on the revisions in my
WIP, I thought about those discussion questions. I think I read somewhere once
that authors have to actually write those. I shuddered with horror at having to
come up with discussion questions for my own book--but then I reconsidered.
Turns out, they're a great exercise for knowing your characters or plot elements
or symbolism better.
And they're just one of the following four things I
do to see the bigger picture in my story better:
1. Write your own discussion
I was wondering about the importance of one of my
characters, a kind of formal old aunt of my heroine's. So I wrote, "What does
[aunt] represent to [herione]? How does [aunt] help or hinder [herione] in her
Naturally, I came up with my own answer, and that really helped
me clarify the role of this character. It also helped enhance her place in the
Write your query first.
Lots of people say to do this and I couldn't
agree more. A query describes your plot, the characters, and what's at stake.
These are the basics of your whole story! I've always told myself that if I have
trouble naming those elements, then I have trouble with my plot.
3. Write a quick and dirty
Oh, not the dreaded synopsis! But yes--and this one's for
you. Just freeform write everything that happens in the book, starting from the
beginning. If you're writing an 85,000 word novel, then keeping track of all the
events can be like herding cats. Write it down and see the forest for the trees.
When I did this, I found myself adding in several elements that I wanted to
highlight in the story, which hadn't been there.
4. Save your first chapter for
This is one I learned the hard way. I write a crappy first
chapter when I start a story--because I know that only after I've finished the
whole story will I be able to go back and rewrite it and have it foreshadow the
rest of the book. And it really has to fit in with the ending in so many ways.
And by the time you've written your whole book, you'll have a really good
understanding of your character's flaws and desires, which can be hinted at in
the first chapter.