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Plot and Structure

Baum By The Sea

“It’s not uncommon for many writers to see only positives but never negatives”

Nobody likes criticism, least of all a writer, yet the most common response to negative feedback regarding plot and structure is “They’ll know what I mean”, ‘they’ being a commissioning editor and of course, they won’t.

Plot and structure is everything to a story but often because an author is too close to their own work, they’re incapable of being objective enough to see even the most obvious weakness, even in the outline.

Before you allow anybody to read your manuscript, least of all a commissioning editor, put it in a drawer – or as an unopened file on your computer – and resist all temptation to return to it for several weeks.  It’s a lot harder than you would think.

However, when you finally do it’ll be like reading your own work for the very first time.  The mistakes, not just in plot and structure but also grammar, punctuation and spelling, will leap off the page.

Neil Simon, writer of the Sunshine Boys, The Odd Couple and much more always used to employ this system.  He would write a new manuscript and lock it away until after his return from summer vacation.  His initial reaction was always “Who wrote this piece of rubbish!”

The fact is that if you follow this advice you won’t need any commissioning editor pointing out any weaknesses in plot and structure when you’ll clearly be able to see for yourself.

Next time I’ll be looking at Writer’s Block.

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