Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sweating the Small Stuff

I realize the title of this post normally has a Don't in front of it, but when final revisions are being done, it really is time to sweat the small stuff.

Novels (mine, at least) don't get written from beginning to end. They get written in layers. Each layer adds more complexity to characters, themes, plot or setting. Sometimes whole new ideas jump out in later drafts and the information to support those ideas has to be woven in throughout the story.

It's inevitable that, upon doing revisions on page 499, I realize: "Oik! I need to change something on page 5 to support, introduce and/or foreshadow this." Since it's counterproductive to leave the scene I'm slaving over and hit the Go To button to backtrack, I make a "Go To List" of things I need to fix/add/enhance earlier in the book.

My Go To List might include:

1. Ideas or details to be worked into the WIP
2. Scenes that need to be incorporated
3. Elements that need to be added, enhanced or brought forward in more detail

and after doing all of the above, there's a final step:

4. Do at least two complete read-throughs for continuity, orderly plot progression and character development. (Did I find problems? Start another Go To list.)

I often use keywords to prod my memory. Here's an example of a current Go To List from P2PC:

Cradle
Epic
Uniforms
Ship-to-ship protocol
Gull
Munchkins
Cambriar blossoms

(A couple of my critters probably "get" at least two of those seemingly random references.)

OK, it's back to sweating the small stuff for me. I hope you all had a fantastic holiday and your muse is recharged and ready for duty.

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