Editing your novel with the help of a revision outline
Last week I wrote about the different drafts your story will go through on the way to becoming a novel. During those drafts, you need to strengthen the characters and plot as well as reduce wordiness or strengthen your writing.
To do this, I find it helps to have something to keep me on track and remind me of all the areas that I need to focus on.
I am unsure where I got this revision outline. I believe it was condensed down and adjusted one from an online writing class I took years ago. But when I am done with my second draft, this is usually the outline I pull out to ensure I do a complete job of editing.
Even though the notes say to do only one of these at a time, I typically do several at once working on each chapter separately.
Do only ONE step at a time. If you find another area that needs work – mark it and then continue with the current fine-tuning project. Work in block sections (defined by chapters). Complete each “block” before going on.
1.) Structure – develop a clear, compelling plot.
a.) Look for scenes that are passive/dialogue with no tension.
b.) Scenes that don’t build or are anti-climactic.
NOTES: Each scene has a beginning, middle and end – there must be a climax/tension spot for each scene – make sure dialogue scenes have tension and are not just “passing time.”
2.) Texture – Sharpen descriptive passages to make characters, setting, and action more vivid – SHOW, DON’T TELL
a.) Look for too much/too little description
c.) Too many adjectives/adverbs
d.) Information dumps
e.) Background or setting info in the wrong place
3.) Dialogue – Elicit character personality through conversation
a.) Look at taglines (placement, too many, too few, too much extra information)
b.) No information dump
c.) Bland or melodramatic lines
NOTES: Read dialogue aloud to make sure it sounds natural/realistic.
4.) Editing – Tighten pace and continuity
a.) Look for repetition through implication
b.) Slow passages
NOTES: Cut, cut, cut! Don’t repeat what the reader already knows or what is implied elsewhere. Be ruthless! Tighten up the copy without fear of shortening the novel.
5.) Blending – search and destroy any weakness.
a.) Look for soft spots – unclear character motivations, actions that seem contrived.
b.) Fix by expanding or adding a scene so the novel flows.