Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lessons Learned



At the moment, I am editing as well as drafting. While I am awaiting the release of my first tech suspense, I am writing a new YA scifi/steampunk, and editing the #2 book to the one being released this summer.

This sweep is probably the tenth or eleventh time I have gone over the book in preperation for it's submission to my publisher. I am down to the point where I am making tiny little adjustments. Adding or subtracting words, punctuation, rearranging sentences for clarity and deleting fluff. The major stuff is all done. Chapters added, plot holes fixed, character developement polished.

So yesterday I sat down and re-numbered my chapters. I will not be adding anything major to the MS and felt safe making sure they were all in order and no numbers were off.

This is where the little lesson comes in.

After I write the rough draft I take a seperate document and make a "master chapter outline". It's usually about four pages long and includes the chapter number, the "unofficial" title* of the chapter, the plot reasons for the chapter, and a short synopsis. *unofficial title: a word or short phrase that gives me a clue as to what the chapter is about. IE the begining chapter of soon to be released book is titled "blood". Have I intrigued you yet? LOL

THIS document is my lifeline for the duration of the story. I print a copy of it and paste it into my project notebook. I also take this notebook everywhere I go. If I have an idea or an epiphany it goes into this book.

Back to the chapter outline though.

As I re-numbered the chapters I found two problems. I'd written down two chapter entries for a chapter I eventually didn't split, so I had an extra number. I'd also forgotten to add in four chapters as I wrote them into the MS. So instead of 46 chapters I actually have 49. Talk about messing with my allready addled brain.

While this "master chapter outline" saves me TONS of time. (Being able to "see" the book in four pages.) Forgetting to add those chapters and not correcting the non-split, messed with my productivity and took almost an hour out of time I could have have been doing something else.

I am sure there were reasons, whether good or bad, that I didn't update my list. But I have learned my lesson. I will definitely not avoid updating on purpose again. I'd rather take a few minutes on occasion than hours fixing it later.

This method works for me. It might not work for you. But hey its worth trying anything once right?


1 comment:

Leslie Pugh said...

This is a great idea! I'm still trying to figure out what works for me. I keep trying different ideas and I love the idea of a master chapter outline. I've been outlining but not by chapters. That may help me get my act together even more!