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.
I 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:
|Scene||Chapter||Content||POV||Place, time||Pages||Goal||Conflict||Result||Scene purpose|
|1||1||Rika & Jo hurry to the mill||Rika||Boston, Feb. 27 (Thursday)||1.5||Make it to work on time||Jo is sick||They’re late||show 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