This is one of those where I just don't know how to explain what I do. I edit with the muse still on. I gravitate to the parts I like best, and pick out the writer candy. At this point it's easy to get started doing sentence edits, but sometimes I actually sit back and outline a bit...but I do it with the muse from the tunnel still on, because now I have to know not only what I liked, but what to do with it.
I can tell what I like, but the muse (or gut feeling) tells me "this image is wonderful, but it shouldn't be a blurb at the beginning. Move it two [as yet unwritten] scenes down, and make it a dialogue." Me: "What the WHAT?" Muse: "Just trust me."
I just start off looking at one major chunk at a time, move them around, and see what I like. If I find myself flailing, it might be because I'm trying to force a darling, and the muse voice is saying "colder."
It works. I have no idea why.
(Before I posted, I tried out my own advice on a dead story, and accidentally resurrected it. Is story necromancy contagious? Things from different versions of the trunked story suddenly made sense, and now I know what the wooden main character wants.)
"Be excellent to each other...and party on, dudes!" - Bill and Ted
I am super, SUPER non-organic and anal about revising. I could happily give you a 92-step (not really... well...) plan for revising a draft. But I don't want to terrify you. Do you want an obnoxious amount of detail, or just general guideline?
*rubs hands together* Bwa-ha-ha! You've fallen right into my 92-step trap!
Seriously, I'll have to post a step a day. I don't have the fortitude for more than that.
STEP ONE: FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT THIS THING TO BE
a) Pretend the book is being published, and you need to write the blurb for the back of the book. 300 words max.
b) Pretend the book has been published, and write a GLOWING review for it. No word limit here-- indulge yourself and gush on and on about all the specific aspects of the story your imaginary reviewer loved. This can be incredibly fun, if you can get over the embarrassment of raving over your own work.
What this accomplishes: The first part of this exercise helps you to pin down the most important character, theme, and plot arc in the story-- which can get away from you in the wilds of the first draft. The second part helps you to get back in touch with all the potential for awesome in your story-- which will help you to identify where that potential has not been reached, and what bits of awesomeness have perhaps not yet made the journey from your head to the page.
For this step, you will make a list of every character who appears in the story (no matter how briefly), and make a few notes about them. You can either make a list on a sheet of paper or on the computer (giving yourself at least 5-6 blank lines after each name), or put each character on his/her own index card.
For each character who appears in the story, include:
Name --If applicable. If the character isn't named, you can just call him "Convenience Store Clerk" or whatever.
Story Function --Why is this character in the story? This is easy for the big characters. "Main Character" is a story function. So is "Villain". It gets trickier as you get into the more minor and even walk-on characters. Why do they have to be there? Justify their existence.
Entrance/Exit -- For this one you will probably need to skim through the draft a bit. When does each character enter the story, and when does s/he leave it for the last time? You can do this by page #, chapter, or however else makes sense for you.
What this accomplishes: Organizes your characters to make it easier to analyze them in the next Steps.
Now it's time to take a closer look at your cast. Not your main character-- we'll get to him/her later.
Some questions to consider and write about:
-How many of your characters present some type of obstacle to your MC as he/she pursues his/her goal? How many characters have no purpose other than to support your character? Look for characters who can provide more opposition to your main character than they currently do. Remember that a character doesn't have to be a Villain to be an antagonist. A "nice" character can disagree with your MC and oppose him/her in ways both large and small. (Example: the "sidekick best friend" character tries to have your ghost-seeing MC committed because she thinks the ghosts are a sign of mental illness.)
-How many of your characters have only one function in the story? Can you eliminate any characters, and give their "job" to another character? Sometimes this can make characters richer. (Example: your Fantasy heroine has a faithful servant who attends her and dispenses nuggets of wisdom, and a childhood friend who is sarcastically witty and challenges her. They both serve the same story function, so they could be combined into one character.)
-Are there connections between your characters that you haven't made? How do all the characters in your story know each other? Do some have a history with each other? Can you make more connections? (Example: What if the rookie partner of your cop MC is the nephew of the mob boss they're hunting?)
-Every character is the star of his own story. Do you have some characters who should have their own story but don't? For all the secondary characters in the story, make sure you know what their goals are, and what they're doing in between times they pop up in the story. (Example: if you have a villain, how does he see himself as the hero? Why does he believe he's doing the right thing? What steps need to happen in order for him to accomplish his plan? How many of these steps are happening off-page?)
What this accomplishes: I've done a fair amount of beta reading, and I find that many first drafts have too many characters with too little depth to them and too little to do. Asking yourself these questions will help make sure your story doesn't have this problem.
Post by Siana Blackwood on Jan 10, 2015 3:20:30 GMT
That's okay - I'm definitely enjoying reading them . Are you okay posting here or would you like your own separate thread?
I really like your idea from step 1 of starting out by trying to write a review of the story. My first drafts tend to collapse under the pressure if I try to come up with a coherent synopsis, but sitting down to talk about all my favourite bits might get me somewhere.
The next few steps are all about making your main character as awesome as he/she can be. As with all Steps, respond to those questions that prompt interesting ideas, and ignore the rest!
-If your MC is an everyday guy or gal, what is one heroic characteristic he/she has that will help readers to root for him/her? If you have trouble with this, think of the people YOU admire. What are the characteristics you find admirable in them? Give one of these characteristics to your MC, and demonstrate it in some small way in the very first scene.
-If you MC is a larger-than-life heroic figure (a genetically-enchanced warrior, say-- or a super-powerful wizard), what is one small weakness or fear that can help reader identify with him/her? Demonstrate it in a small way in the first scene. (Think Indiana Jones and his fear of snakes.)
-What does your MC want? What does your MC need? Note that the MC is almost always unaware of what he needs. Bonus points if the need conflicts with the want. For example, in Star Wars what Han Solo wants is to be well-paid for rescuing the Princess so he can pay off Jabba the Hut; what he needs is to learn to give a damn about something other than himself. In order to achieve the need, he has to give up the want (which has negative consequences for him later).
There are 4 outcomes with the want and the need: *MC gets both what he wants and what he needs *MC gets what he wants, but not what he needs *MC doesn't get what he wants, but gets what he needs *MC gets neither what he wants nor what he needs
Determine which outcome is best for the story you are trying to tell.
-What is the main problem your MC is trying to solve in the story? List all the obstacles he/she faces in solving it. Think of 5 additional obstacles he/she could face.
-Does your MC have more than one problem? For example, she's trying to unlock the mystery of a magic sword that could save her people AND she's struggling to come to terms with her father abandoning her when she was a child AND she's falling in love for the first time. For each of these story arcs, plot the steps along her journey. Where does she start in each of them? Where do you want her to finish?
-If you have multiple story arcs, what connections can you make between them? Maybe it turns out her father was seeking the sword himself when he vanished, and his fate is key to unlocking the mystery. Maybe her love interest is a warrior monk sworn to preserve the mysteries of the sword. Even if you already have connections between your arcs, see if there are any more you can make.
-What is the overall theme, message, lesson, or moral of the story? Why does this story matter? What event in the story best demonstrates this? This is the moral climax-- is it happening where it should?
isidri, please do continue! The 92-step program is something I want to try when I actually get around to revising.
My post-0th draft involves nullifying the red squiggly lines so I can actual decipher my text, go through and separate my story into scenes, re-outline, and delete scenes based off of the outline and notate where I need to add. I usually end up cutting all of my beginning (~25%). 2014's Nano I saved 25k out of the original 103k; 2013's Nano I had to scrap completely because there was no point.
I've written a bucketload of stories where I got the first drafts down, fixed the typos and played with word choice, and called it finished. But for 2014's Nano, I decided I liked the story enough to revise it into something great. My process thus far has looked like so:
Delete bracketed stuff. When word warring, especially with myself, I tend to watch the numbers and the clock. If my WC is sinking, I'll put in a bracket and start rambling. Sometimes I'd do this as a fifty-headed hydra (500 words in 5 minutes), since my typing speed booms exponentially when I say hell to all grammar, capitalization and spelling rules. Also, questions and insults and asides go in brackets. Right after Nano, I create a new document, go through, and delete all of that.
Reread, separating story into numbered and titled scenes. The reason for this is that I usually write one long story with occasional scene breaks when it feels right. Separating it into sizable bits makes for an easier read, although at this point I'm not reading so much as skimming. At the same time, I have a separate document open where I create a list of the number/title (ie, 28. WHEN THE ASEXUAL IS AROUSED (DEN MEETS TORI)) so I can easily find it in my document.
Delete fluff and filler. I tend to overwrite, which means my stories end up being superfluous and wander all over everywhere. Thus, I end up deleting most of my Nano drafts, including any scenes that drag, or doesn't-fit-into-my-story scenes right off the bat. If there's relevant stuff in there, I make note of this to come back to it later.
Create an outline. I'm a planner, but for nano this consists of writing a bullet list of plot points as well as details about the characters and world that come to me as I go. My second outline is far more elaborate, and usually includes a beginning, middle, and end. There's an entire story there, and it makes more sense the second time.
Arrange scenes based on 2nd outline. I change the order of scenes, delete many more as I'm going through again, all the while making notes on the outline where I need to rewrite a scene or create a new one entirely.
Write new scenes. By this point, there's usually a lot more that I need to write. So I hop to it!
This is where I'm at now. I chopped my 103k whopper down to 25k, and I've written ~11k. Based off math using my handy dandy outline, I've got roughly 44k more words to go. *shudders*
To add: for 2013's Nano, I had 150k of story, and later decided that I would need to scrap and redraft the entire thing. I spent a few months worldbuilding and plotting, but I have a terrible time sticking to things and this resulted in an unfinished manuscript. :( Buuuut at some point this year I'd like to go back through my notes and see if that's a story I want to write. (My notes were almost a fully-formed story, minus the words part, created using the Snowflake Method, but that's another conversation.) (Stolen & reformatted from a post I made on a similarly-titled Nano thread.)
tyess: Hello. So... what has happened this year?
Jun 5, 2019 14:03:00 GMT
mim: I wrote smut to amuse myself, but it forgot to become smut. They ended up fighting instead of in bed. Which was a problem when they were fanfic characters on a site too, actually...
Jun 10, 2019 3:52:14 GMT
Jᴀy A. Rᴀᴍᴀ 💀🐍: Well, you know what they say about how fight scenes and the other f word scenes are very similar-- they both involve lots of action. >
Jun 16, 2019 4:57:18 GMT
Corvid: hey gang! just shouting to say HELLO & i hope to produce Content and be more active in this community in the near future
Jul 17, 2019 21:00:21 GMT