James Scott Bell’s book Plot and Structure has some useful information, but I would rank this one as more of library loan instead of a must own. Plot and pacing come more naturally to me. Description and setting are generally my problems, so I ended up doing a lot of skimming. However, I did find the chapter about revision to be very helpful. Here are some of the questions JSB suggests mulling over while editing:
Questions About Your Lead Character
- Is the LC memorable? Compelling? Enough to carry a reader all the way through the plot?
- Does this character avoid clichés? Is he capable of surprising us? What’s unique about the character?
- Is the character’s objective strong enough?
- How does the character grow over the course of the story?
- How does the character demonstrate inner strength?
Questions About Your Opposition
- Is your opposing character interesting?
- Is he fully realized, not just a cardboard cutout?
- Is he justified (at least in his own mind) in his actions?
- Is he believable?
- Is he as strong as or stronger than the Lead?
Questions About Your Story’s Adhesive Nature
- Is the conflict between the Lead and opposition crucial for both?
- Why can’t they just walk away? What holds them together?
Questions About Your Scenes
- Are the big scenes big enough? Surprising enough? Can you make them more original, unanticipated, and draw them out for all they are worth?
- Is there enough conflict in the scenes?
- What is the least memorable scene? Cut it! Now we have a new “least memorable scene.” Consider cutting it, too.
- What else can be cut in order to move the story relentlessly forward?
- Does the climactic scene come to fast (through writer fatigue to finish)? Can you make it more, write it for all it’s worth? Set a ticking clock?
- Do we need a new minor subplot to building up a sagging midsection? Do you need to cut a subplot to clarify a tangle of melodrama?
Questions About Your Minor Characters
- What is their purpose in the plot?
- Are they unique and colorful?