But wandering around Winchester also allowed me time to think about my new work in progress. I had had some great feedback from my critique group, which I was delighted about, but it definitely needed work. I had already decided earlier in the week to kill off one of the characters. She was surplus and had nothing to say so there was no point having her there. Whilst I spent the morning people watching as I walked around another new idea came to mind. It was one of those surprise moments I mentioned in the post before last. I realised I wanted to start the story earlier and there needed to be a heightened sense of risk and tension. These kids were in danger and up until now I hadn't let the reader know that. I was the only one who knew.
It is a problem I often see with students and something I think we can all be guilty of at times. You read the story and it feels a bit flat and one dimensional because the important bits of the story are still be in the writer's head. We, the writers, know exactly what is going on in our story but have failed to put those hints on the page to enable a reader to work it out as well. It is all about layers. Creating characters that are fully rounded, settings that lift off the page and a plot that engages the reader - making them want to keep reading.
There is an art to going back over your work and making the links, developing those layers so that they all make sense. There is no easy route, it takes time and effort and is all part of the editing/rewriting as well as the actual writing process. But it is worth it. A good idea, when you are rewriting/editing, is to analyse your chapters and break them down ensuring that plots and sub plots are supported throughout and don't just drift off somewhere without conclusion. Also checking that your characters' behaviour and attitude is consistent and appropriate throughout. It is all in the small details that can ensure that the reader willingly suspends disbelief (check out Samuel Taylor Coleridge for this idea) and embraces the story.
Here is Zoe Keating playing Optimist. Watch how she creates the piece of music by creating layers - just like writing.