Tag Archives: #amediting

Why your manuscript sucks – (and how to fix it)

A reader reclines, opens your book:

Harry kissed his kids goodbye at the breakfast table and rushed out the door, still pulling his jacket on as he stepped into the brisk morning air of leafy, peaceful Highgate. “See you later darling,” he called to his wife.

Another day to survive this lie.

His guilt tinted the world, made his shame sharper. The cigarette butt he’d discarded – smoking to obfuscate Patricia’s perfume – shone like a beacon in the grass. His car tyres twinkled with the white gravel of her Surrey driveway. Must get it cleaned.

As he unlocked the vehicle, his greatest fear rounded the street and confidently strode towards him: Patricia, out walking her Irish terrier, was in his fucking neighbourhood.

“Harry? But, what are you doing here? I thought you lived in Shoreditch?”

“I do, I was just, I left my car here, my friend, we had a poker game last night, here, I’m just picking up the car… what are you doing here?”

Sally came out of the house with the boys. His throat constricted. He couldn’t breathe. He desperately tugged the knot of his tie and…

Wait wait WAIT WAIT STOP

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Every man has agency, except the everyman

Brushing the sexist terminology aside for a moment, I want to talk about the everyman.

If you’re writing a science fiction or fantasy novel, your protagonist might be an ordinary person who finds themselves in an extraordinary world.

We make these characters to articulate the oddity of the situation, to show how peculiar it is through the eyes of the bewildered.

The problem is, characterisation and agency tend to fall to the wayside. Take for instance Alice or Dorothy, of Wonderland and Oz fame. Tell me some of their character traits… What kind of personality do they have?

It’s tough, right?

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