Major revisions

The first draft of anything is shit. ~ Ernest Hemingway.

After I finish a novel, I put the manuscript aside for a while. Then I read the whole story, not stopping to fix small things. The first read-through is mostly for the big picture: plot holes, character development, scenes that might need to be cut or re-arranged.

draftI try to be merciless when cutting scenes, but sometimes, we writers just fall in love with a clever scene, even though it doesn’t contribute to the plot. In the first draft of Second Nature, I had a scene in which Jorie plays poker in a casino. It showed off how clever and cool-headed Jorie is – and it also showed off all the information about poker and poker strategy that I had acquired in days of research. But the scene slowed down the pace too much, so it had to go. Ouch.

After that first read-through, I do several more, each time focusing on one aspect of fiction, e.g., dialogue, pacing, etc.

I also do a scene breakdown. Each scene gets a line in a table. Here’s scene one of Hidden Truths as an example:

SceneChapterContentPOVPlace, timePagesGoalConflictResultScene purpose
11Rika & Jo hurry to the millRikaBoston, Feb. 27 (Thursday)1.5Make it to work on timeJo is sickThey’re lateshow Rika’s loyalty

It helps me see the big picture without getting distracted by the prose. It’s easier to see plot holes if you have the story on a few pages. It also helps me keep track of passing of time, consistency, and accidental “head hopping.” In Hidden Truths, I suspect it will show me that I have too many POVs.

Created by Krystel Contreras & Jorge Courbis