Oct 21, 2012

Revising the revision

Last week, I got a long list of notes from my agent re: my recent MS revision. Like, 20 pages. Of notes.
It was awesome (and also a wee bit embarrassing that she had to do that! *red face*)
Her suggestions and questions were just what I needed to go through the plot and extract all those pesky rabbit holes, unnecessary words and characters.
And I came up with a quick test to see how well the resulting chapters held together.

A chapter table.

This is not a revolutionary idea. I think Save The Cat asks writers to do something similar. A table makes it really easy to see which chapters are pulling their weight and which ones are holes.

Here's how mine worked: I created a table with a column for each chapter's synopsis. Then I indicated which part of the synopsis moved which part of the plots along.

love interest
main plot
subplot/red herring

Chapter 12:  Carrie and Grant kiss, they discover the magic portal, the elven king is there first

Every chapter should include at least one element -  the main plotline if nothing else - and preferably two elements. Chapters without any plot movement must be examined carefully. Can they be removed/shortened/edited to include a plotline? This method also allows a quick check of the main plot's timing: are all the clues in order? Is there a lot of main plot bold leading up to the climax? Did any thread of subplot go unresolved?

This is also an easy way to stay organized if you have CPs or betas because they, too, can refer to your chapter table rather than giving intext comments. It's a way to give feedback on the overall flow/pacing.

What are some ways you make sure your revisions are on track?


Suzi said...

Twenty pages, ouch. Makes me nervous about what I might get from an agent (when I get an agent).

I've got my chapters listed out, I'll have to try this too. Good idea.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Love it! I'm going to comb through mine and see what's there.

Victoria Smith said...

Interesting guide you made. I think that could work for me as well. Helps put things into perspective :)

Kimberlee Turley said...

Working on revisions myself, but it feels like I'm just guessing at what's wrong because I don't have 20 pages of notes to clarify blanket improvement suggestions.

Robin said...

I just got my 1st set of revisions from my agent and I've been boldly tackling them, but nervous that I won't get it all and my organization isn't always, well, the best, so I'm going to give your chart a try. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your revisions!