Stepping back for a broader view

It’s never too late to analyze your book. In fact, despite the fact that I’m a die-hard plotter, I find it incredibly useful to plot out the story structure and character arcs of a book after it’s finished.

It doesn’t matter how detailed my plot it, when I actually sit down to write a book, things invariably change in the writing. So, while I do plot out the story structure of my book before I start to write, it’s also incredibly helpful to do so again after the book is written.

Taking a big picture view of a book can show you where there are plot holes and inconsistencies. It can provide you with vital information about what sorts of action or quiet times happen and when. You need those times to be balanced.

Readers also expect there to be certain beats at approximate times in a story. They expect there to be some sort of turning point after the initial set up, they unconsciously look for something major to happen around the halfway point and something horrible around three-quarter’s of the way through the story. We are programmed by Hollywood and a life-time of reading to expect these things and it they aren’t there or aren’t in about the right spots, your readers will know that something is off—even if they don’t quite know what it is. The book just won’t be as satisfying.

Plotting out the story structure of your book after you’ve written it will show where those major beats hit. If they don’t happen or don’t happen in around the right spot, it’s not too late to go back and add in a scene or shift things around so that things fall in the right place, like a well-cut piece of clothing the story should mold to the structure, enhance it and show off the beautiful curves

Actually graphing your character will do the same thing. It will allow you to see how your main characters are growing and ensure that they are doing so in a satisfying way. I plot out my character arcs in the same way as I do my story structure with a set up, major turning point, climax or point of no return, black moment, and resolution. Those points don’t need to (and usually don’t) line up with the same beats as in the story as a whole, but they all need to be there so that we can see the character go through good times and bad and end up a better person than when they started.

So, I encourage you, as part of your editing process after you’re finished writing book. Take a step back and look at your story as a whole. Graph it out and then do the same for your characters. You’ll end up with a better book for it!

Merry
 

Meredith Bond is an award-winning author of a series of traditionally published Regency romances and indie-published paranormal romances. Known for her characters “who slip readily into one’s heart,” Meredith’s heart belongs to her husband and two children. Meredith’s second favorite pastime is teaching others to write.

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