Tag Archives: editing

Editing Your Novel: Using Motivation Reaction Units

Editing Your Novel: Using Motivation Reaction Units

Your novel is DONE! Kudos… Now it’s time for editing.

Start by thinking about your readers. Writing is all about the reader. Sometimes we forget that. In the back of your mind, you always need to remember the reader, and his reactions as he reads.

In nonfiction, you write to inform, or to entertain, or persuade your reader. When you’re writing fiction, you write to give the reader an emotional experience.

Think about the emotional experience you want to give readers before you start writing, when you choose the genre of your novel. Are you writing a mystery? A romance? A science fiction epic?

Think about how you choose what you’ll read too. If you’re reading a mystery, why did you pick up that book? What attracted you to it? What emotional experience are you hoping for?

Once you start writing however, you’ll forget the reader, and that’s how it should be. In your first draft, you simply write. You’re discovering your story, and its characters.

Let’s imagine that you’ve completed your first draft. You ensured that every scene you wrote had a viewpoint character, who had a goal. Each scene contained conflict, and ended in a disaster for your viewpoint character.

Now it’s time to revise and edit your novel.

Nitty gritty revision: Motivation Reaction Units

Sadly, it’s VERY hard to get what’s in your head onto the page.

One of the best ways to ensure that you do that, is to make sure that every scene, and its sequel, contains a sequence of MRUs.

Randy Ingermanson has a wonderful explanation of MRUs. “MRU” means “Motivation-Reaction Unit.” They’re a way of decoding what’s in your head, so that your reader has the experience you want him to have. Once you understand MRUs, and apply them, your writing will instantly improve.

As this article, Dwight Swain’s Motivation-Reaction Units | The First Gates, says:

“Motivation-Reaction Unit is the fundamental building block of an action sequence (it’s important to stress that it does not apply to description, exposition, or reverie). It’s pretty simple: something happens, the hero reacts to it, the situation changes, and something else happens. “

MRUs are the way your reader experiences your fiction. Your reader is in your viewpoint character’s body, seeing what he sees, and reacting as he does. They’re powerful. You need to learn how to use them, and then write in MRUs as you edit your fiction.

Watch how writers use MRUs in your reading, too. Getting your head around MRUs is a challenge. Focus on scenes first. Does the viewpoint character have a goal? What’s the conflict? How could you make the conflict more intense? What’s logical? What’s unexpected? What’s the disaster?

In revision, you’ll find that in some scenes, nothing much happens. Be brave. Delete those scenes. You’re providing your reader with an emotional experience, remember. If there’s no emotion, the scene must go. Save deleted scenes to an “Extras” file, if it makes you feel better.

Discovering MRUs, and using them, will immediately improve your novel. Sometime today, take an early scene in your novel, and rewrite it, using MRUs.

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99

Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters.

More info →
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Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

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Updated: January 22, 2018

Your First Novel: Why You Don’t Need an Editor Yet

Your First Novel: Why You Don’t Need an Editor YetYou’ve just completed your first novel. Everyone’s telling you that you need an editor. They’re wrong.

Here’s why. After writing your first novel, you’ve learned a lot. Getting to the finish line was a huge accomplishment, so kudos for that. However, at this stage, you’re much too close to your novel to see it clearly. You’re too attached to it — it’s your baby, after all. Since that’s the case, it’s unlikely that an edit will help you. Much more likely, it will hopelessly confuse you.

So, if you’re not getting an edit, what should you do?

Write your second novel

You need to write your second novel. Take a short break, by all means. But don’t make it a long break — start your second novel as soon as you can.

Here are the benefits of writing your second novel, immediately after you’ve finished your first:

  • Working on your next novel clears your mind. Once you’ve completed it, you’ll be amazed at what you’ve learned. You’ll reread your first novel, and you’ll immediately see how you can make it better.
  • You can use what you learned in writing your first novel, in your second. Your second novel will be better than your first.
  • If you’re working on something else, you won’t be heart-broken by anything your beta readers tell you.

I know, I know… you’re hoping for fame and fortune from your first novel, aren’t you?

Will your first novel make you famous?

Anything’s possible. It could. However, if you decide that you’re not working on anything else because your first novel is sure to be a bestseller, you’re in for quite a reality check.

Don’t sit around waiting. For one thing, you’ll be waiting a long time, and for another, you’re wasting valuable writing time. Even if your first novel is a HUGE success, you need something else for people to buy, so get on with it, and write Novel Number Two — start writing now.

I conducted a mini-poll among my traditionally-published friends. I asked them how many novels they’d written before they got one published. The results? These six novelists wrote between six and seventeen novels before one was published.

I asked my traditionally published friends, because today anyone can publish anything and can call it a novel. That’s huge freedom, and I’m all for it. However, now matter how you publish, you need to learn your craft. And there’s a lot to learn.

When should you edit your first novel?

After you’ve written your second. You’ll be able to see your novel more clearly. Edit it yourself. Once it’s as good as you can make it… you think it’s perfect… Hire an editor. At that stage (you’ll be writing your third novel at this point) you’ll be able to make the best use of any advice you get from an editor.

Your editor’s advice: remember it’s YOUR book, your name’s on the cover

When I got the revision notes from my editor on my first novel many years ago, I argued. I spent a lot of time defending my characters, my plot, and my word choices. From memory, I received around eight pages of notes on a 70K novel. My whining and arguments exceeded those pages.

That was long before email, so I didn’t send the letter, thank heavens.

I argued. I sulked. Then I slept on it. It took around a week, but I eventually realized that my editor was right in 80% of what she said. The other 20% I argued for, and won a couple of the arguments.

I’m telling you this story, because I finally realized that my editor made my story better. She also taught me a lot about structure and editing.

An editor makes your story better. However, you need to be able to put aside your emotions. You also need to be able to see your story clearly. If you’re working on a current project when you get an editor’s notes on your novel, it’s much easier to do that.

Keep writing. 🙂

Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

eBook: $5.99

You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell.

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Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

More info →
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Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.

Fiction Writing Basics: Point Of View Made Simple

Fiction Writing Basics: Point Of View Made Simple

Let’s look at another basic fiction writing technique: point of view. Whatever you’re writing, whether it’s a short story, or a novel, the question of point of view (POV) needs to be addressed.

When you keep POV simple, you can write more

When you write fiction, you’re writing an entertainment. Entertaining your readers needs to be your primary goal. Choosing the appropriate POV makes writing easier, and you can write more.

POV isn’t complicated, as long as remember WHO you are — which fictional character, that is — in a scene.

Let’s look at my simple “rules” for point of view (POV.)

There are two:

  • One character’s POV per scene;
  • Limit POV characters in your short story or novel.

You can break these rules of course, as long as you know why you’re doing it. Generally speaking, I prefer to stick with one POV per scene, and rarely have more than three POV characters in a novel, no matter how long the novel happens to be.

Sticking with the two simple rules makes editing easier. Here’s why.

When it comes to editing, one of your challenges is: what does this character know at this point in the story? If you keep switching POVs within scenes, you’ll hurt your brain trying to work it out, and it makes editing HARD. If you know me at all, you know that I prefer to keep things simple. Then you can focus on writing, and pleasing your readers. (And on writing more.)

A tip: write something first, then decide on POV

Let’s say you’re starting a novel. You’ve got a basic idea, and a concept. (We’ve discussed concept.)

Start writing. Don’t worry about POV yet. When you start writing, you’ll have chosen a POV instinctively. Nine times out of ten, your instinct is correct. Here’s how to tell whether it’s the correct choice. Ask yourself whether you’re comfortable.

If you’re writing easily — ideas come to you, and word flow effortlessly, you’ve made the right choice.

I don’t want to belabor POV too much. You’ve read lots of fiction. Your subconscious knows what you’re writing, even though you aren’t consciously aware of it. The big danger with discussing technique, and thinking about it, is that you’ll stifle your creativity.

First person POV is challenging

I enjoy writing first person POV — viz: “Late that night, I hurried to meet him. He’d left.” But I rarely use it, because it becomes tedious, especially at novel-length.

The big challenge with first person POV is that it’s constrictive. You can only show what your POV character knows, sees, hears and feels. That cuts off your options.

That said, if you find yourself trapped in first person POV, and need to escape, write a few scenes in another character’s POV. Why not? If your story needs it, do it.

Close third person is often the most useful POV

In close third person, you’re inside your viewpoint character; it’s almost like first person. “Late that night, she hurried to meet him. You can’t escape me, not this time. He’d left.”

Do what you need to do: it’s your story

Remember the two rules. They’ll keep POV simple and manageable for you. Beyond that, do what your story requires. And have fun — it makes you more creative.

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99

Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters.

More info →
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

More info →
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Amazon Kindle

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.