The suspense is mounting Wulf. I'm anxiously waiting for the next installment.
Okay, I'll give you a quick one, because the 7 Point Plot will be a long un', and I need time to write it.
BEHOLD! Moon's SUPER SECRET #19: Mock-up your story!
What? Mock my story? My sister already does that. So does my dad. I don't need more help in this department, Moon. Away with you!
I said MOCK-UP, as in make it look like pages in a science fiction book. Like text in a fantasy magazine. You see, we writers get used to reading in the code, Courier, double spaced, one inch margins, etc., etc. And it's great for editing--space between lines to mark changes, monospaced font helps us see typos because they can't hide, you know the drill. But you never see what your writing actually looks like in a book or a magazine! And guess what? That's important!
Think about it. When you open a book, say it's the SCARLET LETTER, and you see page after page filled with narration, no dialogue, no paragraph breaks, don't your eyes start screaming? Mine do. Okay, Nathaniel Hawthorne, I know you wrote classics, but please, couldn't you break up some of those long expositories on the New England countryside? Like the Custom-House chapter, there are entire pages with no paragraph breaks! Okay, we can't pick on Nate too much, that was the style of the time. For many, it was the only way they could go on a journey, and they wanted him to describe EVERYTHING so they could experience it vicariously. But write like that today, with the short attention spans of readers and the imprinting of quick newsfeed posts on the internet? No one is going to read pages of expository like that unless they're trying to get a credit out of an English or British lit class. IT'S PAINFUL!
Alas, sometimes we don't know we're doing the same thing. Because everything is all spaced out nice and neat with our double spaced formatting. But set it up in single spaced Times New Roman 14 point font, print it out, and ask yourself, "Do I like reading books that look like this? Or do I put them back on the shelf?" Because I promise you, when I'm investing in a book, I flip through the pages first. If I see blocks of text, no snappy dialog, no quick paragraphs, just long blocks of expository by the author, I'm outta here.
This is the best trick I discovered in revealing some of my own flaws. I thought, "Lets mock this up. Lets see what I look like on the big screen. I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Demille." Guess what? I wasn't. I had blemishes. I had hair sticking out of my ears. I needed a makeover. Or at least some good tweezers.
So look at yourself in the mirror. Turn your story into what it will look like if it sells. If it doesn't look like it's something you'd enjoy reading, it's pretty likely the editor or judge isn't going to think it's purdy either. You see, they've done this so much, they know what the proper manuscript format actually looks like in print. They see it in their mind's eye. And I'm sorry Nathaniel Hawthorne. You were brilliant for your time, you delivered what your readers wanted. But that's not what the majority want to read today, and that style would not sell in today's market.
Go ahead. Look at your story in the mirror. It might make you smile.
Or it might just shock you.