REVISION OF A WIP: Step Three–Unanswered Questions

I’ve revised the script so there is a balanced amount of dialogue, exposition, and narrative. I’ve put description in it’s place, mostly in dialogue and exposition.

I worked on the individual dialogue of each character, so their voices are distinctive, and southern accent is shown more by sentence structure than misspelled words.

Now it’s time to read over the script for reader’s questions. This will be really hard, because I already know the answers to any question a reader could ask. But now I have to put myself in the reader’s shoes and read each paragraph, looking for what is not there. Right now my chapters have headers just above the text that denotes whose POV, and where and when the scene takes place. But my chapters are short and the headers are annoying.

The chapter one header lists FBI Special Agent Trey Fontaine. The body of the chapter doesn’t go into his title. The problem is, a lot of readers will skip the header, and if they do, they will assume that Trey Fontaine is a cop, because he’s at the scene of a crime, lookiing over evidence with a homicide detective.

My chapters originally had headers because I had two characters whose POV’s were in first person, so it was important that the reader know right off whose head they were in. But after more than one editor said this didn’t work for them, and then I was offered a contract if I would change one of those two characters to third person, I agreed. Now I feel the headers are in the way. My editor has the script right now and will give her opinion as to the removal of the headers. I’m leaning toward taking them out and just working in necessary info into the chapters.

While the editor is busy working on plot questions, I’m reading over the script, one paragraph at a time. Does it say all it needs to? Does it raise questions that go unanswered for too long? That’s one of my downfalls. I’ll create a question in the reader’s mind and then let it hang for so long that the reader has either forgotten it, or has become frustrated with the waiting.

This part of the revision requires that you put on a completely different hat. You have to read as if this is all new material. That’s the major reason writers put away a script and let it cool. I don’t have time to let it cool, so I’ll have to carefully consider each sentence, then each paragraph, then each page, etc.

I hope these articles are helping someone out there. I know there are tons of newbies who are fumbling through their first effort and I’d love to know I gave something to them, in return for all the help I’ve received over the years from wonderful people who were willing to share.

If you know a new writer who is struggling and needs help, please direct him or her to my blog. I know I have a lot to learn, but after all these years of writing, I do have some answers and I’d love to mentor someone who could use my help.

I’ll be back with more adventures in the revision of a WIP.


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