Lesson Twenty-Four from a Manuscript Red Line: Remembering where your characters are

Do you pay attention to where your characters are in a scene?  Are you sure?  I thought I was sure too.

Guess what?

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?  You can also click “Rant Worthy Topics” in my right navigation bar.  Choose “Gold Mine Manuscript” to see all the lessons to date.

The publisher who red-lined the Gold Mine Manuscript pointed out a scene where the two main characters were running side by side away from some danger.  All of the sudden, one of them shouted from behind the other one.  The comment from the publisher was:  “They were together, but you didn’t say he jumped ahead. How then did she get behind?”

I read over this the first time I looked at the red-line, because it seemed like another “duh” comment.  However,  just a few weeks ago one of my betas pointed out that both my characters were standing right next to each other, and then all of the sudden one walked up to the other from the other side of the room.  Why would he walk up if he was already at his side?

Similarly, I recently re-wrote a scene where someone was seated the entire time.  In the end, he falls off the chair.  I changed it so he stands up early in the scene, but after leaving it for a month, and then looking at the scene again, I noticed that my “standing” character still fell off the chair.  Was he standing on the chair?  Of course not!

The point of all this is to pay attention to where your character is, and make sure it is consistent throughout the scene.  If not, show us the movement.  If you don’t, you can unintentionally make your scene comical.

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8 responses to “Lesson Twenty-Four from a Manuscript Red Line: Remembering where your characters are

  1. I’ve done this. :(. I once read that Orson Scott Card creates a second document when he is done with a scene and strips out all dialogue and keeps just actions. I really need to practice that! Another excellent article Jennifer.

  2. Guilty. 😀 😀 I’ve been caught more than a time or two. Duh.

  3. I do this. I totally do this and my inner editor wants to hurt me! It’s a simple tip but a good one.
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. Excellent advice, it is very easy in the hurricane of recording our fancies to lose sight of simple mistakes like this.