On this day… 19th August, 1988 – Veronica Roth born born.
Veronica Roth (born August 19, 1988) is an American novelist and short story writer known for her debut New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy, consisting of Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant; and Four: A Divergent Collection. Divergent was the recipient of the Goodreads Favorite Book of 2011 and the 2012 winner for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Roth has an abundance of advice for writers online – a few of my favourites are featured on her The Art of Not Writing Tumblr page including this advice on redrafting:
I usually write a hasty list of issues right when I finish a draft, because I don’t let myself edit as I go and I don’t want to forget the problems I already know about. So for Book 3, I already have seven or eight large issues in my “problems” column. Some problems to watch for:
-Do all the characters, major and minor, have some kind of arc or clear, defined presence in the story? If they are supposed to be missing, is this something that is explained or wondered about by the main character? This is one of the problems I always have, because when I draft I focus very much on the major characters and forget that there is a large cast of minor characters waiting in the wings. In the rough draft of Insurgent, Christina disappeared for over 100 pages. Not good.
-Have you built to the ending effectively? Most of the time I discover the ending of a book when I’m right in the middle of it, so the first half of the book may be building toward a completely different ending.
-How is the pacing? Are there places where it is too fast or too slow?
-Are there any sections with “infodump”? (Meaning, sections in which information is unloaded on the reader all at once instead of revealed slowly and through plot movement.)
-Are there any extraneous characters, scenes, or plot elements? You can identify these by asking yourself (honestly) “if I removed this event or character, would I still be able to build to the end of the book without losing too much?”
-Are there any characters, scenes, or plot elements that you must add for the book to be rich enough or to make sense?
–Are there any logical issues or inconsistencies with the world-building or plot?
-And the lesson I learned from Insurgent: are there any inconsistencies that resulted from writing scenes out of order or from author confusion? (Like magically disappearing guns, characters who are in places they shouldn’t be, characters with two different names, etc.)
With those questions in mind (and more of your own, I’m sure), I read through my draft quickly. I say “quickly” because it’s not useful, at this stage, for me to address sentence issues or take notes about sentence or paragraph-level problems– this is just the first read-through. What I want to notice are BIG things, and a quick read-through is good for letting me do that while helping me to set aside smaller concerns.
While I’m reading, I’m looking for both problems and opportunities. When I notice a problem (“Christina disappears after page 30”), I jot it down in the left column in my notebook, along with page numbers or other references. When I notice a place in which a problem can probably be addressed (like: “Christina could be present in this scene on page X, and this one on page Y”), I write it in the right column with page numbers or other references.
When I’m finished, I make sure that I have a solution planned for each problem I’ve recognized. If not, I brainstorm them.
Did You Know?..
Roth’s maternal grandparents were concentration camp survivors.