#Wattpad4 December Chat: So, you wrote a story, now what? ... EDITING!


Hi everyone! Welcome to the #Wattpad4 December Chat!
I’m your host, Rebecca Sky and I’m stoked to be here. This is my first time hosting one of the Wattpad4 chats on the forums and I feel kinda lucky getting to host the last one ever OF THIS DECADE! How cool is that!?

A lot of you participated in Nanowrimo last month, so we thought a great topic to discuss is what to do next, how do we polish our first drafts and turn them into a story that will be sure to hook readers. Answer the questions below to let us know how you edit your stories! We’re sure many writers will benefit from your tips and tricks and we can’t wait to read your answers!

Happy writing (and chatting)!
Rebecca and The Wattpad4

To check out the October chat on Crafting A Great Story, click here: (#Wattpad4 October Chat: Story 101 (Crafting a Great Story!)!

To check out our November chat: Productivity and Motivation, click here:
(#Wattpad4 November Chat: Productivity and Motivation!)

From left to right:

  • Lindsey Summers @DoNotMicrowave author of Textrovert & The Trouble with Friendship
  • Fallon DeMornay @FallonDeMornay author of The Stilleto Sisterhood & Out of Focus
  • L.D.Crichton @LDCrichton author of All Our Broken Pieces & Enchantment of Emma Fletcher
  • Monica Sanz @DistantDreamer, author of Seventh Born & Mirror Bound (Witchling Academy Series)
  • Rebecca Sky @RebeccaSky author of Arrowheart and Heartstruck (The Love Curse series)

Question 1: Characters: What are some tips/tools to deepen your characters, make sure they are 3 dimensional and have full and believable arcs over the course of the story?


Question 2: Pacing/Wordcount: What are some tips to ensure you have a tightly paced story? If your story is too long what tips/tools do you use to figure out where and what to trim? If it’s too short, what do you do to fill it out?

Question 3: Worldbuilding/setting: What do you look for and how do tighten up worldbuilding and setting in your story?


Question 4: Plot holes/Timeline: What are tips you use to make sure the timeline of your story is consistent and any plot holes in your first draft get filled?



Question 5: Writing: What are your top tips and tricks for tightening up and improving your prose? Showing vs Telling, adverb removal, etc…


it’s time for the open Q&A portion of the chat! If you have any questions for the #Wattpad4 or about what we’ve covered in today’s chat, let us know! (Please no read requests!)

Thanks so much for chatting with us! We’ll be back with a new topic on the first Monday of every month so be sure to mark your calendars! The January chat will start on January 6th!

xo
Rebecca Sky

I look for the following things. Did my protagonists make any mistakes? Did it cost them something? Can I make those costs higher? How many characters do NOT like my protagonist – are there enough? I often err on the side of the characters being too mellow and not opinionated enough, so when I edit, I try to sharpen their opinion, make them less sweet.

Been either side of it, and shortening things are easier for me – usually all it takes is letting the story sit for long enough, and I can start seeing bits that can be left out. Increasing word count in editing is really hard, so I would much rather write a larger first draft. I am grateful that Wattpad doesn’t have requirements to the word count. It’s liberating when it’s not a consideration to start with and concern is only for the book’s quality.

Usually I just translate a lot of words that were ‘special’ in the first draft to the common English words even if they are not exact. I love cool words, but I can’t keep them all. Sometimes I add stuff from the background notes if some of the setting stuff remained in my head.

It’s one of the hardest things if I didn’t see it in draft. Usually, I have the timeline as a part of the outline, and fight that battle when drafting the first draft. Sometimes people who noticed the problem offer the solution, and it’s cool. Sometimes I would let it go, if it’s minor. Sometimes it takes some flying buttresses to shore up the walls from collapsing. I did have one short story that could not go anywhere because of the irreconcilable problems in the fabric of the setting. It happens.

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I love this too, you can do so much more without that standard book format. Sometimes we want to read 3 chapters of two characters drinking Slurpies and talking about their crushes, don’t judge us! LOL

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That’s right. Or we can deliver a work of epic fantasy in 70K words – all good! Nobody is like, if it’s not 100K, is it even a book?

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I’m fairly sure you meant to use decade unless it’s the year 2099 right now instead of 2019.

What time is this? Where’s my time machine? How did I end up here? How do I get back?

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ha! I totally did, thank you for catching that!

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I wrote 85k words (spread over 3 projects) this November so I feel like a definite winner. But it also means that I have serious editing ahead of me.

  1. Characters
    I don’t have a trusty tool so I’m eager to see what others answered.
    What I often do, especially when I feel stuck, is listing the last emotion of each main character, especially after something has happened. What are current conflicts and status of relationships.

  2. Pacing.
    Ever since I started using Save the cat outline method, I think my pacing improved.
    My nano book is currently too short (about 40k) but that’s probably good as it leaves me space to add worldbuilding and some side characters.

As a comparison, a book I wrote a while back is 260k - I didn’t have an outline when I started and I think it shows. I’d like to go back and see what can be shortened. I think it takes too long to get to the good stuff.

How to decide what to cut? Whatever doesn’t seem to serve any purpose, doesn’t move plot along or add development to the character.

  1. Worldbuilding
    Settings matter - especially for significant scenes, to paint them vividly in your readers imagination, signify its importance.

I am extremely happy that I gave a setting a second thought when writing the finale of my nano book. At first, the action was going to take place in the front lawn but I wanted something more epic and moved it to a church made of glass. Glass is a big theme in this world so it became a powerful visual metaphor of the ending and I hope it would be something that readers would remember.

  1. Plot holes
    My advice to find plot holes: write out the entire backstory, things that are happening in the background, lock down motivations and desires.

  2. Writing
    Look up “filtering.” There are certain words we tend to use which make the action more distant. For example, seemed, saw, thought. Search the document for those filter words and try to rewrite the sentence without them.

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This is a great thread! :slight_smile: Thanks for making it and sharing valuable information here. Putting it on Tracking to receive updates :slight_smile:

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Tagging @FireAlwaysReturns @calmwolf @LailaLiliana @LittleMinx94 @sarakbeeksma @DarlaCassic here :slight_smile:

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Hi! I’ve never participated in one of these things before but I’ve heard all about you guys! I think what you do is really, really awesome for other writers on this site :slight_smile:

I always start off with four basic questions of:

What does my character want/what’s their goal in the story? What do they actually need?

What is keeping them from reaching that goal? What’s their internal and external conflict?

What motivates your character?

What is at stake to lose internally/externally if your character does not reach their goal?

These questions usually give me a pretty good starting place to build each character off of to make sure they are likable, relatable, and 3 dimensional :slight_smile:

I’ll swear by outlining until I’m blue in the face. lol I think outlining our books can help keep us from falling into lots of traps such as plot holes, but can also help us see the pacing of the story and character growth when it’s all jotted down on ten or so pages instead of 200 :sweat_smile:

This is actually a question I shouldn’t answer because I’m still struggling with really fleshing out my settings in books as they tend to be a secondary character in my writing whereas I know they should be just as important to the story lol

Planning, planning, planning! lol

Am I blue in the face yet? :sweat_smile:

Do any of you #Wattpad4 stars have any tips on this specifically? I’d be very curious to learn how you all tackle this matter! :slight_smile:

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awww thank you!!!

I try to answer these too, but sometimes it takes me a few chapters to really get to know my characters and answer these questions. I tend to rewrite the beginning of my book hundreds of times to get this right.

LOL! :joy:(:cold_face:)

I search my manuscript for a slew of things like adverbs (search “LY” and cut as many words that ends in that as you can) and I search for things like "i look, I feel, I hear… as that’s lazy writing and often telling not showing. I also try to make sure to vary sentence length and always read aloud as it lets me know if there’s any stifled writing.

xo

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That’s amazing!!!

@DoNotMicrowave taught a Skillshare class in this so she’ll have lots of advice!

this is my go to, too!

Sounds epic!

xo

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Great advice! These are things I usually go over in revising but they’re definitely good to keep in mind! I tend to find a lot of “I felt, I heard.” in my writing and then the sentence that follows is showing. So, I guess I start off telling and finish showing! lol

What a strange predicament lol

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I go over this in layers, because it’s impossible to get it all right in the first or even the second draft. But a believable character is one with flaws - they can’t be perfect and exceptional at everything. That makes for a boring plot and little character growth. Adversity shows us our truest selves, and its in the challenges where we grow the most. So the same is true for our characters. Figure out what they’re afraid of down to the marrow, and have them thrown into circumstances where they have no choice but to confront them. Over and over.

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I ALWAYS step into my characters shoes. ALWAYS. Some people tell me that I have too much emotion, but I feel like the emotion is what makes my characters real. So that’s my tip. Walk in your characters shoes and feel what they feel, then write how you’re feeling as your character.

I tend to not focus on story length. I find that focusing so hard on it makes the execution very messy. A story needs to flow naturally which also includes ending naturally. Your story needs to take however long it needs to take. But I usually two to aim above 1k for my chapters. If I come up short, then I go and find places that could be a bit more fleshed out or I expand the chapter rather than ending it where it would’ve ended.

Rereading. I like to make sure I know what’s been happening because you can forget. So with that being said, reread chapters especially if it’s been left alone for a while. If it’s something else like a past event, write down just what has happened. But it’s probably best to think of all the MC’s and SC’s then try and think about what they’ve been doing during so and so. Make it line up.

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If too long: I look for scenes that are redundant and cover the same ground/feel too similar and sort out if possible to cut one or merge the two. If the questionable scenes offer no development to plot or character, they are deleted (sob!) regardless of how much I love them.

If too short: it means there’s depth missing, usually introspection where we get to sink into the characters and really get into their heads to understand their motivations and fears. It almost may be an opportunity to expand on world building or expand a rushed climax.

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The setting, for me especially in fantasy or sci-fi, should be integral to the plot in some way. It should challenge the characters/their journey almost as much as the antagonist. I look for sensory details–colour, texture, sound, smell, taste. Engage the senses wherever possible to bring it to life and give it substance.

Each book I write has a distinct palate. I see certain colours, feel certain textures, etc and those lay the foundation of what is to become a whole world.

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I make a list of obvious things about each character, then ask myself what the implications of each are in the context of that character’s personality, family, social groups, and society. Are there expectations on them because of their biological sex? Does their race advantage or disadvantage them, and do they notice? Do they have fears or insecurities from past traumatic events? Etc.

When it comes to writing, then, I don’t shy away from letting characters make bad decisions, even if it forces me to rewrite my plot. I’d rather have them be in-character and off-plan than vice versa.

First step is to determine whether you tend to over-write or under-write.

I over-write, so I’ll speak to that. I make a goal of chopping 10% of my word count between drafts one and two, and I usually succeed. I look for excess words, sentences, paragraphs, and full scenes. Even excess characters. I ask myself if each is truly necessary, then try taking each out. Do they change the meaning of the scene? Do they add information not available anywhere else? Do I need that information? If there’s one nugget of value in a whole paragraph, can I incorporate it somewhere else?

It takes days to run through a book like this, but it’s so, so worth it. Sometimes it makes my pacing a little too tight, but a reread usually catches that.

I treat worldbuilding in my book like any other part of my wordcount: it has to serve a purpose. I use it to set a scene, or at very least the mood of a scene. If I accomplish that in three sentences, I have a hard look at the next five. I make every detail count: if the characters won’t need to recognize that tree later and it’s not adding to the mood, out it comes.

I reread my work a lot. As I do, I make notes on loose ends. I have a comprehensive timeline document for my entire series; it’s 18 pages long and counting. I have a subplot map: a chapter-by-chapter timeline with lines weaving through it, touching on chapters that advance each subplot. It helps me spot redundant ones, excess ones, and ones that go too long without advancing.

And I give readers and beta readers full permission to rip my story to shreds :slight_smile: They’ve flagged a few things once they’ve felt comfortable enough to point them out.

A dedicated editing round for showing vs. telling. Other than that, my 10% word cut tends to take care of this one.

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I also read my books a lot to find any problems that can be removed in order to make the story better.

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