Revised editing plan

Apparently I am more fond of making plans than I am of following them. On the other hand, planning can be done everywhere, and writing… cannot. Plus I haven’t had the necessary brain power, energy, focus or anything, really, to write for the past few weeks. Busy doesn’t even cover it. (Somehow we started talking about the number of jobs that I have, followed by a discussion of whether homework is good or bad, in my German class today, which led to this gem from one of my students: “If Catrine can survive everything, we can handle a bit of homework.” It was amusing.)

Aaaanyway. It’s clearly not just that class that was filled with digressions today…

I have made a new editing plan! This time I have even done some research! (Wow.) Also, I have edited. A little bit. Most of my research comes from the eminent blog of Rachel Aaron/Bach at Pretentious Title, who both writes books that I love, AND has perhaps the most useful writing blog I have ever encountered. There is something to be said about taking advice from people who write the kind of books you like to read, I think… Also I got some advice from Holly Lisle, whose advice I have read for years now and who has a blog post about one-pass editing. Perhaps the most useful advice from these two was that there is no editing process that works for everyone, and because of that, I have picked a little bit from both.

The magnificent plan, v. 4 (or something)

  1. Take the timeline and write down all the new stuff (that you know of), both big and small. DONE
  2. Find the old scene overview. DONE.
  3. Make a new scene map over the current story after the changes. DONE.
  4. Note down theme and a short summary of the story. DONE… sort of. Will probably have to do again.
  5. Write down everything you can think of that you need to fix, round 1. DONE. (But will need to be updated as I think of more things)
  6. Split up the Scrivener file by scene (currently the entire chapters are together) in chapter folders, to make it easier to move scenes around.
  7. Write the new scenes that are missing from the current draft. I have actually written one of these!
  8. Triple check that the ending works – something bugs me about it.
  9. Go through what the generals are doing this whole time, when they’re not shown in the story. Make sure they seem like they normally know what they’re doing…
  10. Write down the questions that need answering, and answer them. Does everything make sense?
  11. Plot routes and cities on map to check that they’re not using two days to a place to which it takes two weeks or months to travel to, or vice versa.
  12. Write the next draft.
  13. Read through and write down everything you see that needs to be fixed.
  14. Rewrite again
  15. Repeat the last two as needed.

As usual the “just a few” steps turned into quite a few, but I am more optimistic about this plan than the previous ones. It took me a few rounds to find something I think will work and which fits the way I work (without necessarily doing everything chronologically).

We will see! Considering I have already done a few steps on it, I think it is promising.

Plotting time!

image

OK, I just had to test if posting from my mobile phone actually works. (What evidently didn’t work was to remove myself from the computer in the hope of removing distractions. Hello, phone! So far I’ve read about how to brew tea in a teapot (yes, I had to Google it), made myself a cup of coffee and written one line.)

Anyway, I decided to share a little photo of my plotting process. Here I have the original timeline, recently printed in list format from Aeon timeline, the actual scenes from the latest draft written down in keyword format by hand, my notebook, and a printout of the feedback I got from Cicilie. I have to admit that I feel a little intimidated by having to coordinate them, but it must be done. There were some huge changes in the last draft, and it skews the entire timeline. Part of me just wants to get on with it and start writing, but we’ve tried that before. Making the changes in advance is far less work, actually.

This timeline process of the last week has made one thing clear to me: I need a second computer monitor. Yes, my monitor at home is wide-screen, but still. Perhaps I should simply use my work computer for this (after work, of course), as it does have two monitors. Which is perhaps why I feel like I need it. Besides, I can’t afford a second one at the moment anyway.

Well, enough procrastination – back to work. It’s not like the whole thing needs to be redone after all… Just the middle. It’s always the middle though, isn’t it?

EDIT:

You know what, screw this. I had planned far too many steps and I cannot find the motivation to do them. I’ve revised the timeline and know what goes where. I have my notes on what I need to flesh out more. I’m not convinced that, at this stage, working endlessly on re-plotting the scenes is necessarily a good idea anymore. This isn’t NaNoWriMo. If I encounter a problem when writing the next draft, I can take the time to stop and plan that part. Frankly I just want to write the thing while the changes are fresh in my mind. My gut feeling tells me to skip all those extra steps and start writing. It’s not like the next draft will be the last anyway, and if there’s some worldbuilding missing or something that’s not quite right, I’ll discover it just as well when writing as if I’m plotting. I also think it’s a good idea to start writing while I remember the new scenes.

This, of course, brings me drastically ahead of schedule. I didn’t plan to start the third draft (or second?) before around the second week of April, but now it’s the second week of February. The good thing about this is of course that it gives me some time to edit another story of mine as well.

Plot revisions

I never used to do very many plot changes after I had written the first draft. No, I treated the first draft as if I had somehow committed to the story being that specific way. I sometimes rewrote a story, but it was less changing what was already there and more writing a brand new story. Reading about authors who had to move chapters to different parts of the story and so on just seemed confusing and pointless to me – why create that much work for yourself?

But you seldom get your descriptions right at first try, nor the dialog. Why should plot be any different?

Perhaps it’s that changing the plot commits you to doing several big changes instead of small ones, and that’s always daunting. And of course it’s not something you want to do. But if it makes the story better it has to be done.

Nowadays I always tweak the plot between the first and the second draft. How can I edit it properly if things are in the wrong place? What’s the point of perfecting the conversation between A and B if the plot has to be changed so they do not meet at that time anyway, if at all? Sometimes it’s hard to make these changes, but if they are necessary there’s no way around them.

The story I wrote in August, during Camp NaNoWriMo, had a promising beginning, but even I was confused with regards to the ending. I forgot why exactly they had to be there – and if they have to be there to make the story add up then the plot isn’t really… good enough. I want plots where things don’t just randomly happen. If a character must act a certain way to make the story work, even if that way is out of character, then something is wrong. Let’s just say that there isn’t much of the latter half of the book left.

I hadn’t really planned on revising it that much – I spent about an hour tonight fixing and redoing the plot – but the ideas kept coming. Things are radically different, but the characters are truer to themselves, and truer to, well, logic. I’m fairly satisfied at the moment, and being the perfectionist that I am I think I’m very close to something good here, if I haven’t already found it. The characters aren’t very trusting or naive anymore, which would be completely out of character for both of the main characters, nor are they so honest with each other. The rest of the good things about the changes will have to stay secret, since it would spoil the ending. Just in case.

Another change is that it was supposed to be two books, but now it’s only one. It made more sense with regards to the plot and the ending, and the book is more coherent now than it was before. It doesn’t make sense to stop the story before the story is over, after all.

Hmm. Strange that it should take so many words just to tell that I had revised a part of the plot that bothered me, and that I am happy with the changes. Guess it shows just why I can’t write short stories… 😉

Now it’s off to bed, then back to work tomorrow. And, if I’m lucky, I’ll figure out what to write for NaNoWriMo this year. I intended to finish revising Rogue Sorcerers before November, but I doubt I’ll get the time. Probably I’ll do it in December instead.