Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Plot: When in doubt, act it out!

After I finish the first draft, I always take and print out my pages. I like the look of 400 pages -- what an accomplishment! I put my manuscript away for a few weeks before starting my first edit. I have the desire to start immediately but quash it. I occupy my time dreaming up my next plot or work on my blog.

When I start to edit, I have a process. One thing I like to do is take each scene, or for some of you, each chapter, and act out the characters in turn.

1) I highlight each character's actions and their lines in a different color
2) I visualize the scene in my head (what the room or area looks like)
3) I visualize what my character is wearing and holding or doing
4) Then, I direct myself as each character-- moving around and saying each line.

Why? Why is this sometimes a good idea?

When reading through your work, sometimes it's easy to miss errors. Perhaps a minor character was standing in a doorway and  then he's in the attic. Perhaps he's wearing a red jumper and then he pulls a mobile from his jacket pocket. Was he wearing a jacket?

I'm not saying this works every time but you can catch many inconsistencies. When in doubt, act it out!


Anonymous said...

Oh, wow - that's a great idea, for the very reason you stated. I've been caught so many times for poor choreography. I'm going to implement this one for sure.

Great post!


Ann Elle Altman said...

I'm glad you liked it... I don't get up and do it on all the scenes, but I should.


J.L. Campbell said...

Interesting concept. I'd be too shy to act out. I read through - whispering to myself. Amazing though, that I sometimes catch inconsistencies only on the nth round of editing. As always, it's interesting to see how other writers 'do their thing'.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Hi Jayda. I don't act out my scenes around people. My family already think I'm nuts. But, it's a suggestion for those who want to try new editing techniques.


J.L. Campbell said...

You made me laugh out loud with that comment.