I finished chapter 5 last month.
The main change – and what caused a lot of work – was inserting a scene I had cut out of chapter 4. It fits better into chapter 5.
Once you start working at a scene in detail, you find it lacking. So I wrote it again. And then again.
In the first draft, the scene was a confidential conversation between the hero and a guest of the engagement party. It stretched over 42 lines and had a melodramatic touch. By the time I was done, it had grown to three pages and features a whole group of people.
The changes happened gradually. In the first edit, the conversation was no longer a confidential one. It became audible for other guests of the engagement party. However, as nobody else entered into the discussion, the scene felt stiff and isolated.
Tip: How to edit a scene
When you are unhappy with a scene or a dialogue, it is always helpful to look at it from a fresh point of view:
What can be cut? Is there too much or unnecessary description?
What can be changed or added? A conflict, a different location, a character?
I concluded that further characters would add conflict. If other guests are listening to the conversation anyway, why have them stand by idly?
Tip: Assigning roles and tasks to a character
I have seven characters in the scene. This is not something I could decide as I liked. Since this scene occurs subsequently to another event at this location, the maximum number of people is defined by the people who were there before. As an author, you cannot make up people as you like if you don’t want to put off your reader.
Each of the 7 characters was assigned to a role according to general character traits and personal aims:
- The hero sets out so provoke everyone.
- One character is the good guy, trying to smooth the water.
- Another person is pedantic.
- Number 4 is grumpy.
- Number 5 is gauche.
- Number 6 seems sunny and unconcerned.
- The last person became my favourite character of the scene: the slightly vulgar country gentleman. He is to be the comic element and drive conflict.
Adding characters to the scene worked like a charm: I merely needed to sit back and watch them squabble and fight over their open or secret aims.
The course of the scene changed completely, but the basic information that has to be communicated in this part of the novel was maintained. By adding characters to the discussion, I gained a witty and lively scene, that, I hope, the reader will enjoy immensely.