The Plan: Phase Two

15 Feb

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).

THE PLAN

  • 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!

In case you’re unfamiliar with this blog, I’m working on editing the second draft of my novel.  You can click here for an organized list of all posts related to this project
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25 Responses to “The Plan: Phase Two”

  1. islesam Monday / 15 February 10 at 1:01 pm #

    This is super exciting! Congratulations on making it through the rewrites & the first round of edits. Round Two does sound particularly foreboding, but I’m sure you’ll tackle it with the same flair of ease and sophistication you’ve done with everything else!

    Also, dinner does sound delicious – & your tweets kept me giggling all night. Adam & I have ours tonight. Here’s hoping we don’t take THAT long to cook….

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 17 February 10 at 1:35 pm #

      Thanks, Melissa! I’m just taking Phase Two one step at a time, kinda like my crazy-hard four-hour recipe. Let’s just hope Phase Two ends up better than the recipe did. Did I mention that despite the delicious flavor of what we made, the meat was too tough to eat? I’ll have to get my dad to tell me a better way to cook the meat, and try again. I ended up eating a bowl of Cheerio’s with my chocolate-dipped strawberries and wine. (Technically, not with, I guess. About half an hour later.)

      • islesam Friday / 19 February 10 at 4:58 pm #

        Wow! I’m trying not to laugh, but that’s pretty hysterical! We had this big meal planned – and stopped after dessert (also chocolate dipped strawberry deliciousness), appetizer & a salad. We’re doing the filets tonight instead. It was still a good night :)

  2. Merrilee Monday / 15 February 10 at 3:48 pm #

    Very exciting! I’ll be watching with interest :D

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 17 February 10 at 1:38 pm #

      Yeah, exciting and just a tad overwhelming, haha. Things keep coming up (like old friends popping up at Starbucks and proceeding to talk my ear off for two hours…which is nice…but not productive) and I haven’t made as much progress this week as I’d hoped. Still pushing on, though, trying to redeem the time that isn’t getting eaten up. :)

  3. J.C Monday / 15 February 10 at 4:10 pm #

    Looks like you’ve done plenty of thinking, hope it all goes well! All the pre-work that goes into organizing your notes and making your plan of attack will certainly pay off in the long run. It’s great that you are keeping in mind that it’s a learning curve tho! Next time you get to this point it will all go a lot quicker ;-)

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 17 February 10 at 1:43 pm #

      Pre-work seems to work really well for me – it helps me to be organized and also gives a little bit more time for thoughts to develop. You’re right, by the next time I do this, I’ll have more experience with what works well for me. I love figuring out what to do, though; it’s quite challenging to tackle such a large, multi-faceted project. Much harder and way more rewarding than working in a drive-through, handing out coffee/money/chicken sandwiches.

  4. cynthia Monday / 15 February 10 at 5:24 pm #

    This plan ought to keep you moving forward. Good luck, Kayla. I will stay tuned for more updates.

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 17 February 10 at 1:47 pm #

      Yes! Among other things, it’s helping me to keep moving instead of standing still – necessary when there are so many types of things to think about. On my more indecisive days, I debate myself on what to do with my time (should I read? write? edit? clean?), and the debate itself takes all day. I get nothing accomplished at all on those days. With this plan, it helps me prioritize rather than play the want-to v. the need-to game. :)

  5. jenniferneri Monday / 15 February 10 at 8:55 pm #

    Hi Kayla!
    Sounds like me and you have been doing the same thing! Yet, I have 80 odd pages left of phase one to complete. deadline, this week. (cross fingers for me, with two PED days, I have 1.5 working days.)
    Scares me when I look at 800 odd footnotes and note pad filled with the thoughts I have been recfording as I read through first draft.
    I hope to be in phase 2 next week, and I plan to stay there a full week. That will be the assesment and plan of action week.
    Good luck!

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 17 February 10 at 1:50 pm #

      Jennifer! Good to hear from you! So fun, that we’re doing the same things right now. I absolutely know what you mean about those 800+ footnotes/notepad. I look forward to hearing about your progress on these things – I hope you get the time you want and need in order to do them! :) Life is busy these days – good luck to you, too!!

  6. Megs - Scattered Bits Monday / 15 February 10 at 10:27 pm #

    congrats and hope you have a wonderful journey! I’m just going to remind myself that I am not in a competition and I have made plenty of progress, circumstances considering. still in phase one. you keep trucking. you inspire me as you move ahead.

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 17 February 10 at 2:03 pm #

      Aw, Megs…I’m sorry if you feel pressured for any reason. You’re so right, this is not a competition (and, of course, I have no intentions to make it one!). I know what you mean, though. I look at tweets from people like Natalie Whipple/Kiersten White and think, Aw, man, I want to be that fast at writing/editing… or They’re so far along, I’ll never catch up… That’s so not a healthy mentality, though, and people don’t just magically get to that stage with their projects. It takes time.

      There are also times when I have to remind myself that even though I’m striving for my personal best when I set goals for myself, it’s not a race. From the get-go, I’ve always aimed for quality over time, rather than something crap-like quickly. Setting goals for myself is nothing except to keep myself moving at a reasonable pace, because if not careful, “quality over time” could turn into “quality over a never-ending period of time…” and never get finished.

      So. All that to say, I needed to hear that, too. I’m not in a competition with anyone, not even myself; I’m just trying to stay on track and do my best. :) Thanks for the words of encouragement, and I hope all is well for you!

      • Megs - Scattered Bits Sunday / 21 February 10 at 9:08 pm #

        Thanks for the encouragement back! You always manage to cheer me right up. (But I won’t use that excuse as license to drop pessimistic notes all over you, promise.) My muse just needed a break from the pressure of editing, I guess. Sometimes I forget that revision and writing are really two VERY different things and sometimes, they don’t mix up too well. :sighs: Next weekend, I’ll revise. Yeah.

  7. Laura Tuesday / 16 February 10 at 5:55 pm #

    I think you have the superpower of super-organization. I only wish my mind worked that way.
    Very inspiring! Good luck!

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 17 February 10 at 2:06 pm #

      Haha, thanks Laura! I’ve always loved organization. My favorite store, at age six/seven, was The Container Store: a sign of things to come, I think. ;)

  8. Rowenna Wednesday / 17 February 10 at 2:40 pm #

    So smart that you’re organizing your approach–I didn’t the first few times and it’s kind of an overwhelming, floundering feeling. I’m getting better at having checklists and goals for revision, but also keeping an open mind–never know what idea will inspire you for problem-fixer during rewrite phase!

    All the best as you take your project to the next level!

    • owlandsparrow Monday / 22 February 10 at 2:21 pm #

      Hey, thanks, Rowenna! Organizing my approach has turned out to be overwhelming in and of itself, a little bit, but I can only imagine how I’d feel if I was going about it without some sort of method! (What I imagine? Not pretty.) Definitely keeping an open mind as I go – a couple of new ideas have jumped out at me already, so I’m seeing what can be done with them.

  9. joyofdawn Thursday / 18 February 10 at 11:38 am #

    Wow! I’ve been gone too long. Congrats on finishing Phase One and getting on to Phase Two! Looks like you have great plans and goals for this next phase.
    Oh, and the snow looked beautiful! Hope you got to enjoy it! Do you still have some?
    As for the guy who thinks that on-line friends aren’t real friends… Maybe he should keep researching! :) One of my biggest mistakes I made was thinking that I understood people. I learned the hard way that people are in a constant state of change. When I think I know someone I might as well as start at the very beginning. So I just like to accept people for who they are at this very moment and let it all fall where it may. That can make story writing harder though. Because then it is harder to know my charaters. It comes, eventually. :) I got some great friend though!

    Wishing you well on Phase Two!
    Loved your P.S. in this post! :)

    • owlandsparrow Monday / 22 February 10 at 2:34 pm #

      Good to see you again!! Thanks for the congratulations :) – everything’s going along well (slowly, but well).

      The snow was GORGEOUS, and I can’t believe it – they’re saying it’s supposed to snow again tomorrow! This is the snowiest winter I’ve ever seen in Texas.

      Interesting comment about thinking you understand people when really, people are in a constant state of change. I make this mistake, too (sometimes even with myself) and it’s a good thing to remember both in life and while writing. Thanks for sharing!!

  10. Kathleen Wall Thursday / 18 February 10 at 1:24 pm #

    Take it one step at a time. Looking at everything you need to do can be overwhelming, but you’ve already made it through some tough hurdles.
    Best of luck with Phase 2!

    • owlandsparrow Monday / 22 February 10 at 2:36 pm #

      One step at a time is working well so far – thanks for the encouragement, Kathleen! :)

  11. littlehousesouthernprairie Monday / 22 February 10 at 1:47 pm #

    very very cool!

    • owlandsparrow Monday / 22 February 10 at 2:38 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Emily! Congratulations on your sweet new baby! Hope all is well for you and your family. :)

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