This is the week I am supposed to get serious about revision, but time has gotten away from me. In all honesty I am still working on my read through. I’ve hit quite a few bumps in the road. I’ve had high notes and low notes this week. An excellent review by another author I greatly respect and whose writing I love and my worst review ever from someone who won a copy of my book in a Goodreads contest. Yes, I paid for that bad review out of my own pocket.
So when I am done both celebrating and licking my wounds, which both end up with a glass of one thing or another, I will get to this next step in revision.
Revision Step Two: Break it down.
Last year I took a class on revision at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference from C.C. Humphreys and Robert Dugoni. Both great writers who operate differently. However, when it came to breaking down your novel they both agreed it was a necessary step in the revision process. They just didn’t agree on when. Mr. Dugoni does his break down as he goes, thereby eliminating the step I am about to talk about. Mr. Humphreys does it when he is finished. I’ve done a bit of both this go around.
When I wrote Fae Hunter I didn’t keep any type of scene log. This meant that breaking it down took a long time. Heck, at the time I wasn’t even sure how to break down the scenes. This time around I wrote Fae Guardian using the Scrivener program. Scrivener has built-in tools for helping you to break out your novel into scenes and chapters as you write. There is even a bulletin board where you can see a summary of each scene on what looks like an index card. I fully intend to use this system and the other tools in Scrivener to help me break this novel down.
But you can still break down your novel using any other number of methods. It might work best to set it up as a spreadsheet. This sounds like a lot of work, but it will save you a lot of work in the end.
The columns in my spreadsheet would be as follows:
Chapter: The chapter number and name, if applicable.
Summary: A brief overview of the actions in the scene. Use your verbs. Hopefully when you are done this column will reveal the shape of your plot.
Time and Place: It is easy to start one scene in the morning and in the next scene have your characters eating dinner. Ask me how I know. Do a brief rundown of where each scene takes place and what date and/or time it is so that you don’t have any time travel going on, unless of course that’s what you wanted.
Characters: Who is in the scene? You might want to put an asterisk next to their name if it is the first time they have appeared in the novel. When you go back through character edits you will be able to recheck that you properly introduced each character the first go around.
Conflict: Does the scene have an obstacle? Does each character have a goal? Each scene should advance the plot, the character, or both.
After you have the scene log what do you do with it? I’ll start working the columns to show you what I do as I go through the remaining steps in the revision process.
I’ll end with a few excerpts from the notes I took as I did the initial read through of my novel, which was Revision Step One:
“Need to cut the crazy sex.”
“Remove the mention of the nuclear bomb.”
“Love the ending of this chapter.”