Friday, January 15, 2016

#WritersLife: Completing a revised outline

#WritersLife, where I talk writing in real life.

I hit 50K words for NaNoWriMo 2015 on Nov. 30th, and then finished the novel around 59K on Dec. 14. Now, on Jan. 15, I finished the revised outline for the rewrites that are scheduled to begin on Feb. 1. 

I posted my schedule on my book goals post, but I also talked about this amazing technique from Ireland Writers Tour regarding a revised outline. You open up your MS Word (or related program) and create 2 columns. On one side you write the events as they happen in each chapter. In the second column, you write the revisions that need to be made, things you want to add or take away, or questions that came up earlier that weren't answered (which was often in my case).

It also helps because rather than working within the same draft over and over, a process Eric (the Wise and Powerful Llama King) refers to and coined as patchwork, the revised outline will allow you to write down changes you want alongside what you know to happen. It's organization at its finest, and I am all about organization.

Patchwork is something I struggled to change about my writing because it got to a point where I was adding and changing the same scenes over and over in the same ways. It also sounded disjointed because some things were thrown in without regard to how it flowed within the writing. Working on changes separately helps to ensure my style isn't altered while the words are. 

It took me five days to go through my novel. This outline is extensive and I am dreading the editing. I need to strengthen the history of all but two characters. I need to revamp the setting. I need to alter the voice in the beginning. I need to expand most scenes and only shorten one. I need to do so many things to make this novel good, including expanding the length overall because 59K won't cut it for a science fiction novel. I know the word count rules are subjective, but considering most SF, F, and SFF novels within the YA category are easily 400-500 pages (minus those quirky dystopians), the novel does need to be longer.

I will have this outline printed out and use two monitors: my laptop to perform the new writing, and a monitor to show me the rough draft in case some scenes can be used. One thing I loved about the rough draft is the dialogue. 80% of everything will be edited, cut, or rewritten completely though. 

My revised outline came out to be 12 pages long. I know this sounds short, but few things were repeated in the edits. I planned to work on this for two months, but I may start as early as next week to give myself 10 weeks to rewrite it. I really want to get it to another set of eyes by April 1st because there are questions that are best answered via a conversation, and the only way to know what exactly my questions are is to try and write and see where I get stuck. 

What are some of your tried and true revision techniques? Anything that has worked well for you?

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