A to Z Challenge: String Theory

No matter how we write, at some point, we will have a completed draft that will require revisions and edits. Multiple rounds.

And this is where string theory comes in (and yes, I know it’s not the same as its use in physics). It’s incredible how much everything in a draft is connected


So, if you change something in the story, it might have an immense impact on the rest of what you’ve written. Or maybe it’s just in my writing, but everything I write down either directly or indirectly means something later. Because of that, when you need to add something in, I strongly suggest that you put a lot of thought into how far that string goes. Otherwise, the reader might be pulled out of the story for one of hundreds of reasons, depending on the nature of the string.

Conversely, if you take something out, you need to make dead certain that every sign of its existence is removed from the story. For example, if you take a character (let’s call him Jim) out. Anything that Jim did has to be removed or reassigned to other characters. And every sign of the remaining characters ever being aware of Jim’s existence has to be taken away.

And removing things that characters did can really weaken the plot, so tread carefully. Don’t assume that one round of edits will be enough. Changing things to the plot after rewrites are done can have a huge impact.

I was still finding loosened strings five edit rounds after I added things or took them away.

So keep an eye out for strings that came loose because of previous editing rounds….

Look Out for These:

1) Names of characters no longer existing in the story being mentioned.

2) Orphan chapters. Chapters that no longer connect fully to the plot because of changes you made.

3) Plot holes forming because you took the explanation away.  

Do you keep track of the strings of your story as you edit? How do you do it?