A couple of months ago, I registered for a half marathon and while registering I saw that the course was listed as “difficult and challenging”. Words that should have caused me to pause, as I was a half marathon virgin, but I brushed past them and hit enter without giving them another thought. I continued to prepare for the race by running on paved routes that had a variation of hills. And a month before the race, I even ran thirteen miles, without any problems. I felt ready and while I stood at the start, I was excited because I knew I had prepared. However, while on mile four of the race, when I was discouraged and not sure if I could run the whole thirteen miles, I realized that I didn’t give the appropriate respect to the words “difficult” and “challenging”. The race course was mostly a mixture of uphill hiking trails, it also had ice, snow and mud patches. Not to mention that Colorado had high wind warnings, of 45 to 75 mph that day. The words difficult and challenging were apropos.
Since then, I’ve thought about the lessons I’ve learned from this experience and applied them to writing.
First, my words carry weight. Do I use the right words when describing my scenery, characters, or action?
Second, do my characters act and react appropriately to the situation? Or are they behaving in a manner that is contrary with their characteristics? Or are they not reacting when they should?
Third, does my story follow a logical path from beginning to end. Meaning did I fulfill my promise to the reader by solving the crime with plausible clues and trick them with possible red herrings?
These are some of things I look for while I am editing. As for the half marathon, I finished and I plan on running another one for beginners in the spring.