A couple weeks ago, I posted about my awesome CPs (critique partners) and their informing me of a term called "Lampshading." Well, my friends ... they've done it again! If you have a CP group, or someone who is interested in reading your work, and volunteered to give their opinion, this is a writer-mind trick that may prove useful.
In the past, I would share a chapter with my group, and they would make suggestions. Sometimes, the suggestions were so extensive that it required rewrites in parts, which is great. Anything to make the story better, right? Because of this, I felt it was best to resubmit that chapter and have my group read it again. They were happy to do so, but I wasn't aware of an issue I was perpetuating - by rehashing previous chapters, I was taking them away from the story ...
Do this enough and it can get old. Quick. So is there a way to keep our groups informed of what we've changed without subjecting them to another reread? And, in turn, allow us to move our writing forward and keep our submissions fresh? You bet - and it is called a ...
RetCon (Retroactive Continuity): its origin stemming from the comic book world, is to "revise an aspect of a fictional work retrospectively, typically by introducing a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events."
- From oxforddictionaries.com
In other words, if there is a problem with a scene, revise that scene, and then let your readers know of these changes with your next submission, either by stating the RetCons in your next email or on the submission before the chapter starts - use up that white space.
For example, I had a scene in my Undead WiP that my readers had an issue with. I agreed that something had to be done about it. I wrote a solution and told them about the changes at our next meeting.
(The following example isn't based on my stuff ... just yet ...)
In chapter 4, Jay is chased down an alley and runs into a dead end. Bullies show up to beat him up, but then a garbage man uses super-awesome-explosive magic to save Jay and make the bullies go away.
Critique: "It may not be a big deal, but the magic felt forced. There was no lead up or foreshadow, which took me out of the story a bit. Maybe introduce the garbage man sooner, before he uses magic?
I make changes, prepare to send chapter 5 with this included:
Here's a RetCon: In chapter 4, Jay jumps into a dumpster instead of running into the dead end. When the bullies leave, Jay gets out and meets the garbage man, who uses magic to clean him up.
By doing this, CPs know where the story is going without making them reread anything, and they can enjoy plowing into new material. True, a RetCon might effect something else written later on, but it's better to find issues and edit them out before our readers see it.
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This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. There may be a time when a reread is needed, such as a whole chapter rewrite, but when it's just a few small things, like a character name change or some other detail that doesn't compromise the continuity of the story, a "head's up" can go a long way over retreading old ground.
Have you used the RetCon with your CPs and readers? If so, how has it helped move your writing along? If not, want to give it a try?
I'm off to WHIE for the weekend. Have a blast this weekend! I'll tell you all about it on Monday, with some very special book releases!
I'm David, and bring on the Iron Men!