Pulling all the threads together

I’ve been through all 506 pages of the first draft, and I have a head (and a notebook) full of ideas.

image Now I’ve opened my plotline spreadsheet, and created two new tabs.

Here’s what I’m planning to do.

I’ll update the plotline spreadsheet (plots for the columns, scenes for the rows) from my notebook, and note when a plot starts, progresses, or is concluded.  Then I can see what gets resolved and what gets forgotten about. I’ve added a column to note things I need to do.

I’ve added a tab for characters. I’ll put all the names and titles in scene by scene, and check that they don’t change.

I’ve added a tab for a calendar, so I can plot the scenes against dates, sunrise and sunset times, and the phases of the moon.

I’ll let you know how it works out, but in theory, by the end of the day (6 or 7 hours from now), I should have a marked up draft that I can split to work on on the train.

UPDATE, Monday evening: The answer is that it is taking longer than I thought. I’m up to page 200, but I have the plot threads mapped for the first two-fifths of the draft (and have found some holes, which I’ve now noted on the draft, the character names recorded for two-fifths of the draft, and all of the scenes laid into the calendar – and I’ve found a whole extra day, which I’m going to have to account for, somehow.

By taking this analytical approach, I’m avoiding the temptation to drop back into creative mode. When I finish the analysis, I’ll have all the thinking done that I need to do, and I’ll be able to deal with the draft one page at a time, content that the logistics have been dealt with.

So it’s working.


The real work is all in the edit

vonnegutI’m on page 92 of 506 of my first hard-copy edit, and I’m loving the experience. This bit is all about continuity, pace, and plot. I’ve marked where the hero’s housekeeper changes her name, and his land agent goes from weedy to buff in a matter of days. I’ve noted the change in the heroine’s eye-colour (green flecks turned into gold flecks). I’ve found two scenes I can cut dramatically and another that I think I can get rid of altogether, thus removing several peripheral characters entirely.

And, for inspiration, I’ve been reading some quotes from an article entitled 20 Great Writers on the Art of Revision.

Here’s one of the 20 quotes:

“Your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.” — Kurt Vonnegut, How to Use the Power of the Printed Word