If you have read more than 3 of my editing tips, you’ll know that I’m a strong proponent for balance when it comes to taking advice and utilizing techniques in your writing. But what about the actual story? What happens if you’ve written the book in your head and then a beta reader or editor says, “It’s not quite balanced.”
What does that even mean? A Balanced story?
First we need to look at what story is:
If either one of these is lacking ‘fullness’ in any way, then readers get pulled out of the book because they start second-guessing the narrator.
In the case of a book I’m currently editing, the author does an excellent job when scenes take place in the past (and these are the bulk of the book). However, when reader returns to the present the story line is only loosely tied together with vague hints about the main character’s family life and a changing relationship with her best friend. These times in the present feel rushed and “told” to us rather than explored and “shown” to us. As a first draft, I can tell the author really took pride in detailing the story in the past and wanted to keep getting back to that story instead of giving due promise to what was happening in the present.
And that’s okay. Really, it is.
As far as first drafts go, this one has good bones. The crucial thing to remember when editing is not to overlook what is happening to the other characters who make up the other half of the story (or should make up the other half but are currently only handling about 1/4 of their jobs at the moment).
In order for the reader to become fully immersed in your story, you need to find ways (situations and extended scenarios) to flush out your sub-plots accordingly (or in this case, what should be a parallel plot). That way, the justification of what happens by the end of your story is not muddled in a lack of attention to what (perhaps) wasn’t quite as fun to write during the first draft 😉
This is often difficult to see for yourself unless you are able to put the manuscript away for several months and gain distance from that world. Having a writing partner or key beta reader you trust, or even an editor you know you work well with, is a treasure not to forsake – they can help you see any imbalance in plot or character, set you back on the right track for draft 2 and ultimately guide you toward the completion of a fantastic story.