As writers, our goal is to tell a story. We become so immersed in our world that sometimes we forget simple things like where are the main characters going? What’s the point of their story? How do I resolve all their plot points/issues? What is my story missing?
Other times, we forget even simpler things such as adding culture to our world. I was pegged on this in Messy Death and rightfully so. Telling a reader about my world is not showing my reader that world actually exists. Now, what’s the big rule of thumb when it comes to writing? Show don’t tell. That’s true for more than just scenes. Yes, we want to know how your character feels about something. Yes, we want to know what he/she thinks, but the same is true for your world.
If you’re dropping us into a reality different from our own, you have an obligation to show us that your reality is present and acknowledged by the main character. As you read this, some of you may be thinking, ‘duh,’ but I assure you these key ingredients are easily overlooked. Because Messy Death is my baby, I want everything to be perfect; however, I don’t have a set way of doing things yet. To avoid editing while I go, thus getting stuck in a hamster wheel of re-writes before the first draft is done, I do two quick edits when I finish a chapter. So far, that works for me.
That being said, I may start a drama/culture read through after my second round of edits. This will be a chapter by chapter scan for missed opportunities. Sometimes we need to add more tension/drama to keep things moving alone. Other times, not so much. Also, the second edit will be a culture test. Am I representing my new world in little ways? Does it feel real? Have I gone overboard? Should I reign my world in a bit?
Another word of caution. Characters become who they want with or without our permission. If you want them to be a love interest, but they’re like nuh-uh, no-way, no-how respect it. Things will go smoother. Remember though, an opportunity to force them into the role will only result in more re-writes for you.