Mostly, when I write novels, I sit down and write, NaNoWriMo style. I break my work into rough scenes and chapters when it seems reasonable, and write what sounds good as I write. I have a vague idea of where the story is going, but sometimes I ramble a little in getting there.
So when it comes time to edit, I really need to cut out the bits where I went round and round before getting to the main point.
Sometimes though, it’s hard to see what is pointless waffling, and what is important to the plot. So after working out what my big picture was, and how my characters would develop over the course of the story, it was time to see if each of my scenes added to the story or not.
When simply reading through my novel, I was too distracted by how cool an action or dialoge was to really evaluate it’s usefullness to the overall story, so I printed out a table of all my scenes (remember, I give them names so that I can find them easily), and in four columns, I wrote down notes on how each scene contributed either to Marlee’s personal development, Tyris’s personal growth, the development of their relationship, and the progression of the science fiction portion of the story.
After I had these notes, I looked through the four seperate plotlines, and checked to see if there were any plot holes. Among other things, I discovered that I didn’t work on developing any initial attraction in their relationship (which several beta readers had mentioned), and identified scenes where I could add this in. I noted places where I could add in some foreshadowing for my ending scenes, so a solution to the problem didn’t seem so convenient.
I also looked back at my initial big picture, and noted that one of my themes for the novel was of Tyris wanting to ‘rescue’ Marlee. Although this theme was there in the beginning chapters, I made a note to change a few sentences to make it more definative.
This evaluation helped me put together a plan for making sure that the story was coming across the way I wanted it during the revision. At this point, I also sent my story off for a professional critique, to catch any plot holes or places where my characters didn’t act naturally. I’ll be writing about that next Tuesday, and next Thursday I’ll be talking about my plan of attack for line editing.
If you missed any parts of my Editing 101 series, use the links below to check them out.
Part 1 – The Big Picture
Part 2 – Character Development
Part 3 – Charts and Graphs