Editing Rant: Roller Coaster

Photo by Elle Edwards on Unsplash

Wow, the slush read I just finished had an amazing opening, and then total crash and burn. I’m going to have to reject it.

So boss (Falstaff Publishing), opened up submissions to slush. What that means is we have a TON of submissions from unknown authors seeking their first publication credit and not everyone is ready for prime time. Actually, very, very, VERY few are ready for prime time, and I have hundreds to read.

Plus side, I’m going to have Editing Rants for years to come.

Minus is turning people down for stuff that is good, just needs serious but doable work. The one I read is the poster child of this dilemma. Working with the author, the manuscript can be fixed. It would take awhile but could be fixed. Problem is I got space for only three in the publication schedule and two hundred entries. “Needs serious work” isn’t going to make it. But I don’t want the author to quit writing. They are good. They are capable of being even better.

I can’t “fix” two hundred manuscripts. That is what the Editing Rants are about – getting writers to be even better without me developmentally editing 20,000,000 words. I love my job, but I don’t have time for that.

Back to this particular editing rant.

The first chapter was amazing. Jumped me right into the action, immersed over my head. Then … chapter two.

Switch point-of-view (POV) character who ALSO is waking up.

Yep, the first chapter was amazing even with the POV just waking up. The action started immediately and within two seconds the reader is right there with the character. In chapter two, with the second character, all the story background gets dumped as the character goes about the normal day. One lonnnnng infodump.

So what I want to talk about is the roller coaster ride of plotting.

Roller coasters are built to have a giant drop at the very beginning. They start with a rush. Maybe have a slow, frightening build to the promised drop – click, click, click as the carts climb higher and higher. Then BANG. Off to the races.

Later, there are slower parts to build tension again, and twists and turns, but the opening is a huge rush to put the rider into the roller coaster experience, removing people from their ordinary lives and investing them in the ride.

Genre fiction – science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, even romance – the start of the story is to introduce the rider to the ride and remove them from their ordinary lives. It should never slow down to a complete stop. Information sharing should be short and sweet, followed by a quick snap turn left and right into dialogue or action.

Build your plot like a roller coaster and remember to start the ride with immersion.