So, you’ve finished your novel. Congratulations, it’s a massive achievement!
But, now the real work begins: the redrafts. Once you start the subsequent versions of your book, you may find yourself getting stuck on certain scenes, and asking, "Should I keep it, or should it go"?
The answer to that rests in the purpose of the scene.
All of your scenes should have at least one purpose from the list of twelve below. They will not only tighten your writing, but will also ramp up your scenes, making them more engaging and interesting. In other words, move them from blah to ta-da!
Ask yourself the following questions.
Does the scene:
1. Show the reader something about the character?
2. Give the reader an insight into the relationship of one or more characters to other characters (and, therefore, drive the plot and overall themes forward)?
3. Move the plot or subplots forward?
4. Show the reader something about the world the characters come from/why they make the decisions they make?
5. Set a specific mood for the plot/s, character/s, theme/s (i.e. suspense, compassion for the main character, outrage at the powers that be)?
6. Hint at themes, a bigger picture meaning, sub plots that are yet to be revealed etc?
7. Give the reader necessary information (even if they know it at that moment or not) about the character, their background, a plot or sub plot etc?
8. Create a bond/emotional connection (positive or negative) between the character/s and reader?
9. Introduce or intensify conflict?
10. Build suspense?
11. Set up the stepping stones for character growth, or plot development, later on?
12. Provide resolution?
You must be able to say ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions for EVERY scene in your book.
What if you can’t?
It’s that simple––and, yes, I know, that hard too. It takes practice and determination and a certain level of detachment. Once you learn to be ruthless with your rewrites, you will find your scenes instantly improve.
So, chop, chop! :-)
What do you think? Is there anything you would add to the list?
People often say how fun it must be to be an identical triplet. Of course, there is always the expectation that you will reply, “It is”! And, it is (at least, I think so, I don’t know anything different) . . . but, there is a dark side too. Here’s why:
1. The Creeps
These show up early. And, I mean: ‘before-you-understand-half-the-words-coming-out-of-their-mouths’ early. The creeps would say highly sexualised things, or make crude insinuations. The fact that most of these men (not one woman has ever done it to me) would have claimed to be against pedophilia shows the extent of the socially acceptable sexualisation of identicals.
I would also say that roughly 75% of the men I’ve dated (aka ‘creeps’) have done it due to the novelty of dating a multiple. Many brought up having foursomes and/or various fantasies they’d had about my sisters. None of them saw anything wrong with that––even when I flipped it and used their own siblings as examples. As an aside, this is one of the reasons they are now ex’s!
Which leads me to another creepy aspect. The movies, magazines, books (there are A LOT in the romance genre, which aggravates me to the bone – but, that’s a topic for another day!) – TV shows, and advertisements that promote having sex with twins/triplets etc, often at the same time and/or with the other siblings watching. There’s even a term for it. Twincest. I wish I were kidding. I’m not. Twincest is an outright offensive stereotype. It is damaging to self-esteem, identity, and sexual security. Whatever erotic fetishes you want to play out in your head is fine. But, STOP publicly normalising the sexualisation of identicals in popular culture, and don’t include me in it. I don’t respond as politely to it these days as I did as a child.
2. The Gossip
Do you remember what it was like in high school? How awkward and unsure you felt all the time? Try being an identical triplet on top of that. There is nowhere to hide, everyone knows who you are, and the gossip can be awful. One story has always stood out in my mind.
I was in grade ten (so, around 14 or 15 years old) and I was doing volunteer work as a teacher’s aide at the local primary school once a week. I struck up a friendship with a volunteer who went to another school and was one or two years older than me. She found out what school I was from, and the first question out of her mouth was whether I knew ‘the triplets’. Naturally, I said I did. With no prompting from me, she started telling me the rumours she’d heard. All of them were sexual; all of them were obscene; all of them were false. I sat there, mouth gaping more with each word she uttered. I saw the moment flash in her eyes when she realised why I wasn’t saying anything. She swallowed hard then said sheepishly, “You’re one of them, aren’t you?”
3. The Family
Unfortunately, the dark side to being an identical triplet has extended to members of my family. I’m only going to brush over this topic, because I feel like it isn’t my place to talk in-depth about it.
What I will say is that I know it impacted the lives of every one of them. Stereotypes, constant attention, time and effort in raising us, and the financial strain are all issues I am willing to cite.
The fact that I grew up aware of these different factors also played on my psyche, sense of self, and self-esteem.
4. The Scapegoat
Oh, this part is fun. Cough. *insert sarcastic tone*
Being blamed for things one of your sisters did, and people not even bothering to check if it really was you (because near enough is close enough, right?!) is one of the suckiest aspects to being a multiple.
Teacher’s, friend’s, and even family members have done it to us. You get to the point where you don’t correct people, because it takes too much effort, and they don’t really care anyway.
By the way, I am aware there is also a massive benefit to this! See my vlog, “How to get away with murder . . . if you’re an identical triplet” for a light-hearted take. (Click here.)
5. The Roles
Being forced into roles that suit other people is something else that comes as a side effect of having the same genes as two other people.
I was the ‘smart one’ – with the insinuation that I wasn’t the ‘pretty one’ or the ‘cool and fun one’ further implied. This shuts down individuality, removes personal choice, and turned me into a people-pleaser.
Let them sort out who they are themselves. You know, like you do with other people.
6. The Comparisons
The constant comparisons of physical, athletic, academic etc attributes becomes exhausting. People sometimes talk about how competitive multiples can be . . . yes, because other people force us to be!
Why do we need to be identical in every area of our lives? We are not clones (technically, we only share 99.99% of our DNA), we are different people, with varying tastes, likes, and dislikes. The same as any other siblings.
7. The Freak Show
‘The freak show’ is a term I coined to describe what happened when my sisters and I went out in public. Strangers would stare, whisper, and point at us. It made me feel uncomfortable, abnormal, and self-conscious. It got to a point when we were teenagers where we didn’t enjoy being seen together. Even today, it is rare to spot all three of us at the same time.
My point being, if you see multiples together, it’s fine to notice, but pointing, staring, and whispering is rude. Remember how your mother told you that when you were a child? Yep, it extends to identical triplets too!
My aim in writing this blog was to get people thinking about the way they view and treat multiples. The stereotypes are often wrong, harmful, and offensive. If you’d like to know more about what it’s really like to be an identical triplet, you might like to read the first book in my ‘Farris triplets’ series – Triple Threat – available now from the Mills and Boon Australia and Escape Publishing websites. Click on the links below to grab your copy.
Thanks for reading, A.K. :-)
Mills and Boon
About A.K. Leigh
A.K. Leigh is an international-selling romance author, identical triplet, writing instructor, incurable romantic, love guru, self-love advocate, amateur mystic, mother, sometimes blogger and vlogger, and trauma survivor.