Editing: The Videogame (Levels 1-3)

Level 1 – The Plot 

We’ve been caught in a Plot Hole Minefield, Cap’n!

Whenever I begin a new video game, rather than read the user manual, I prefer to spend a few minutes figuring out what each button does i.e. run, jump, shoot, block, etc.  Even in the games with a tutorial level, I die many times over in the first minute or so… especially on more advanced stealth and shooter games.

So, I go back, read the manual, check out some FAQ’s online, and try again.  And again.  And again, until I can go more than five steps without bursting into flame or falling into a bottomless pit.

My computer is riddled with the files of false-starts and misfires of begun plots.  With each one, the plot has died, and I have to regenerate at the beginning.  However, even with a completed draft, the plot may still need some work.

The main question, then is: Does the plot work and is it a good story?

Yes, having good characters will help drive an interesting and compelling story.  However, if your characters and the rest of the story are being dragged down by the gravitational pull of massive plot holes, the characters won’t matter.  Whether the plot is more complex than Inception, or simpler than Green Eggs and Ham, it has to make sense.  If it is coherent enough, we can empathize or be interested in the characters.

In this journey of plotting, I often hit a brick wall.  There, the draft dies, and I have to  go back to the beginning of the level, or the last save point.

However, writing is like some RPG’s (Role-playing-games, not rocket launchers), where you maintain your experience points whenever you die (as long as you don’t turn off the console).  You can now take out what didn’t work (curse you, low-health-pointed white mage), add in what did work (bigger swords!), and continue on your venture.

This is why making your own game guide for the novel is vital.  By thoroughly plotting out every key scene and character moment in the story, the completed draft will be less likely to have major issues to fix.  This makes the editing phase faster, and you won’t have to spend as many lives.

However, even with a good guide, there will be sudden blocks along the way, new challenges rising, and different paths needed.  Sometimes you have to nose your way through the dark, mapless area, until you arrive on the shores of a coherent plot line.

Once you have re-read your draft, eliminated plot-holes, and made sure the story is follow-able, you are ready for Level 2.

Congratulations!  You completed Level 1!

Experience Points: 1,000

Achievements Unlocked: A completed draft with a story that makes sense.

Bonus Item: Plot Hole Goggles – Now you can see your way around plot holes!

Now on to Level 2: The Characters

13 thoughts on “Editing: The Videogame (Levels 1-3)

  1. Congrats on finishing the draft, and ‘gaming’ something is *always* a good way to get motivated. Just don’t forget to save often, and pack extra health potions. It’s a long way back to town once you get in there . . .

    • That is some excellent advice.
      I actually do save often – just in fear the word program suddenly crashes on my tablet. It’s as terrifying as accidentally entering an area where you’re not supposed to be for another fifty levels.

  2. Congratulations on completing your draft! I’m nearly halfway through a draft of my novel, but I’m definitely in tht dark mapless place at the moment…
    I LOVE that you compared the editing process to video games. So true!

  3. Posts like this make me giddy with joy, because I love the intersection of videogames and writing. Congrats on getting to 90,000. I’m trying to cut my manuscript a bit. I’m at 117,000 and am in cutting mode. I never thought about making a videogame for the book, but I’ll consider that now!

    • It’s funny how often word count is the opposite of getting points – No! I want less!
      117,000 isn’t too bad, though. As I mentioned, my previous draft was 250,000ish – far, far too long. I had to gut the whole draft and take it back down to just the framework before rebuilding.

  4. That is such an awesome (and creative) way to describe the editing process! It’s interesting to see the way you broke it down. And I did like the bonus items. 😉

  5. I can’t wait to read your book! If I ever manage to discipline myself enough to get through a second draft of one my stories, that would be something. You, however, are a conqueror! Congrats!

    • I’ve still got to finish this edit-through, then I should be ready for Beta readers – It’s very exciting.

      With writing, you have to be Dorie and “Just keep swimming”

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