You Can Fix an Ailing Storyboard

Today’s post will show you how to remedy a storyboard (and by extension, plot) with problems.
Writing Tip for Today: So you’ve laid out your novel’s scenes and taken a more holistic and objective look at your story. The nice thing about storyboarding is that you can add, rearrange or cut scenes without messing around in your actual manuscript. What can you do to identify and fix plot holes, redundancies or scenes which masquerade as story advancers, but really aren’t?

  • Plot Holes. A plot hole is not the same as a block of time which is excluded in the story. Plot holes are more like lapses in logic, in which the reader can’t figure out how the character gets from “A” to “B.” Time periods that make no difference to the story, including what characters do while waiting for the next important scene can safely be cut and replaced with a simple transitional sentence. When I discover a true hole, I will often write the gap-filling scene(s) in a separate document, then try it out in a couple of spots. Sometimes it’s necessary to brainstorm with writing partners or groups. The most important aspect of plot hole filling is that it makes sense for that character in that situation.
  • Redundancies. When you discover that you’ve written more than one scene which basically covers the same ground, look for ways to either combine those scenes or pick the strongest and most emotionally moving scene to illustrate. Beware though. If you simply insert a scene that’s only goal is shock value, it’s not always moving a story forward. You can keep your deleted darlings in a special folder, so you don’t have to throw away the effort.
  • Masquerades. Sometimes we’re so close to the story that we think the scene moves the story along when in fact it doesn’t. Often, it takes a writing partner or group of readers to point out the elephant in the room. If this happens to you and your story, sit on the evidence for a bit, then ask yourself how the scene advances the story. If the best you can do is say the scene “adds color” or “provides background info on characters,” you may want to reconsider axing that scene. Trust me, if it really needed to go, soon that scene will be a distant memory. And the scenes left are stronger and more vital to the story.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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