Well. Monday already, is it?
The weekend could fill up a post or two of its own (specifically, I’m thinking of our four-hour-long journey into Top Chef territory, as my sweet husband and I attempted to make ourselves a romantic dinner for Valentine’s day: Pan-Roasted Venison with Crushed-Blackberry Ancho Chile Sauce and Sweet Potato-Pine Nut Polenta), but alas, just typing the name of that recipe takes an hour, so I probably shouldn’t spend any more time writing about it.
Instead, it’s time to trek into different — uncharted, foreign, scary! (to me) — territory, also known as Phase Two of Project: Edit. Oy.
During Phase One, I read the entire manuscript and made (very colorful, detailed) notes about each and every scene. While reading my scenes, I kept an eye out for lots of things. Rather than listing them all out again, here’s a link to The Plan: Phase One — check out the bulleted points in the post.
At this point, I’ve made no changes, only notes. Lots of them, all handwritten. I have at least three major categories of things to think about. (PS: If you’re reading this on the main page, the bullet point list appears really smushed — on my browser, at least, it helps if you actually click over to the individual post. Sorry if I make you dizzy!)
- STORY. | This is my category for everything related to telling the story itself. This includes thoughts on pacing, plot, sub-plots, characters, suspense, scenes to cut, scenes to add, loose ends to tie or sever.
- LISTS. | As I made notes, I marked lots of things in light blue ink, which signifies a sort of to-do list. Things marked in light blue range from “Make a list of all the furniture in V’s office so it is consistent later” to “Think: what does each person know at the beginning of this scene?” Basically, it’s a running to-do list of anything I want to think about more so that everything, from setting to character motivation, will be consistent and fitting throughout the whole novel.
- THE WRITING ITSELF. | My main focus, so far, has been to solidify the story itself — why polish something that will change or get cut later? Now that the story is largely in-tact, I’ve begun to make notes about the writing itself — where the writing falls flat, where it’s too emotion-y but not really invoking the right feeling, where I need to use my senses to write a stronger scene, where I need more creative words, and on and on and on.
So. Phase Two is where I’ll begin to deal with some of these things. In order to digest all of this stuff (as opposed to choking on it) I’m going to do my best to work through these issues in a completely logical manner, starting with STORY and LISTS, and saving THE WRITING ITSELF for Phase Three (or later).
- ORGANIZE NOTES. | Some may argue this is unnecessary, but in order to better process my thoughts, I’m going to type up my notes from the read-through. As I do this, I plan to organize them onto two separate spreadsheets: one spreadsheet devoted to my color-coded categories, the other devoted to the three major categories I listed above. It may take a bit of time, but I think it will help to prioritize my issues. I’ll probably assign each issue a ranking number, sort of like Merrilee does with the crits she receives.
- ASSESS LISTS. | Check through all the light-blue colored comments. If any of them directly affect STORY, address them first. Leave any that deal with less critical issues for later.
- WORK ON STORY. | Start working through the spreadsheet and make changes in the order that makes the most sense. I may go chronologically, or it might be more appropriate to work from major issues down to the minor ones. I’ll decide once I see how many issues there are, and how the potential changes affect each other.
- WRITE NEW SCENES. | This, I know, will be necessary in a few places. I’ll either do it as I work through the last step, or right after.
- RE-FORMAT. | For some strange reason, I broke a few chapters in the most odd places. As I write new scenes and cut old ones, I’ll probably go ahead and re-format the chapters in ways that make more sense.
This is a lot to think about, a lot to work through.
Like I said before, this is uncharted territory for me. (PS: I’m making all of these phases up as I go along, so I reserve the right to learn as I try out my own system…) After the first draft, I had so much to change about the plot and my characters, I ended up totally just re-writing the thing. That’s not in the stars this time (unless something drastic happens), so I’m learning how to work in changes systematically. That’s quite different than starting from scratch with an entire overhaul — writing out a plan has helped immensely. I feel better prepared to work through this mountain of paper, better prepared to identify what needs to be done, better prepared to do it in the right order.
I’m not giving myself a deadline on Phase Two just yet. In order to set a deadline, I need to figure out just how many changes there are, then get a feel for how long it takes me to work through those issues.
Thanks again, everyone, for your encouragement and support! Phase Two begins…NOW!