The following scene segment has a problem. What’s the issue and how do I fix it in 2 minutes? (See below for the answer.)

Here’s the problem:

Shelley sidled up next to Jake and stared into the gaping gully. Sharp boulders poked through the snow and the ground curved away so she couldn’t actually see how steep it got. For all she could tell, the slope ended in a cliff.

Stepping carefully, she edged back from the precipice. Her pulse pounded and a wave of nausea washed through her. “We’re going down there?”

The answer:

As a reader, you can tell that something makes these lines weak.  The challenge is figuring out WHAT. Luckily, our Scene Editing System course give you the tools to find the problem.  In this case, it is these 2 lines.

Stepping carefully, she edged back from the precipice. Her pulse pounded and a wave of nausea washed through her.

One of the things you will learn in our Scene Editing System course is that involuntary reactions need to occur before voluntary reactions.  When you get it wrong, the scene just doesn’t work.

In this situation, what should come first is the sentence about Shelley’s pulse and her nausea.  This reactions are involuntary and would sweep through her first.  She would then step back away from the edge.

Let’s look at the scene now with the sentences in the correct order.

Her pulse pounded and a wave of nausea washed through her. Stepping carefully, she edged back from the precipice.

THIS works.  Now the reader can smoothly form an image of what is happening.

Make sure you scan ALL your scenes to make sure you haven’t inadvertently reversed the order of your character’s reactions.  It’s very easy to do in a first draft since you are focused on getting the details on the page.

This is just one of the strategies you will learn in our Scene Editing System course (and in our more extensive Fiction Editing System Mastery Course).  All our strategies are just as easy to apply and will take your novel to the next level.

Do yourself a favor and make life a little easier. Learn what you need to know with our easy-to-access, practical courses.

Cheers!

Janine