How do you know which parts of your story need more fleshing out, and which are fatty parts that need trimming?
When I wrote The Real McCoy, two skimpy parts emerged. They were caught, I’m glad to say before the manuscript went to the publisher. One was a meeting between my heroine’s brother, Richard, and my hero, Luke. Originally, I simply mentioned that the two had met, had a talk, and now understood each other. Boring. My favorite editor, my sister, said, “I want to see that meeting.”
Whell… I had no idea what had really transpired between these two men, but I set to work on it. I pictured the two meeting at a coffee shop, taking each other’s measure. For two solid days, I wrote the scene, rewrote it, and wrote it again, until finally, I knew it was “right”. In the end, instead of three lines, I had a full-blown scene of three pages. (By the way, that scene went through the Montlake editor without getting one red mark! Thanks, Gail.)
The second scene, a medical situation, also needed more of..something. I wrote it much like I write in a patient’s chart; just the dry facts, brief and to the point. Not surprisingly, I found that where it should have had an emotional impact, it fell flat.
Back to the drawing board. I reworked the scene, looking at it from all angles, putting myself in that hospital room, noting what each person was doing, feeling, seeing. The tension of the crisis came through the pages. The editor said she had been quite moved.
But even more gratifying was a recent reviewer’s stamp of approval on that particular scene. When a reader “gets” what I’ve tried to do, it is priceless.