Saturday, January 15, 2011

Post Nano Series: Editing/Revising Story Structure

I'm going to keep this short and simple, then inundate you with links for more information. I know we talked about this before Nano, but you need to think about story structure when you start revising and editing as well. If you did a lot of planning and plotting before sitting down to write, this step will be easy. If you are a plotser (a little planning, a little seat of the pants) like me, I hope you are pleasantly surprised. If you totally pantsed it, you may have a bit more work ahead of you.

You have this shiny new novel. Maybe you've read through it since writing it, maybe you haven't. Before you start changing things I want you to do this.

Read it and look for these things (I actually write them down as I read):
  1. Overall Plot of the book. What's the main conflict? You are going to need to know this when you write your query.
  2. What subplots do you have going on? Do these subplots help your MC to grow? Move them along the path of your Main Plot? If you have too many your book will start to feel heavy, confusing, and disjointed. So use with caution.
These are the threads that you must keep straight--in your mind and on the page. If you are going to add a thread, it had better lead somewhere and resolve. The only exceptions to this rule is if the thread continues into another book in the series. Series! That's an entirely different animal we will save for another day. 

That is all I do on the first read through. Later I go through and concentrate on sentence structure, passive voice, adverbs and adjectives, and dialogue. And usually not all at the same time. When they say revise, revise, and then revise again, they mean it. Think of it as taking small bites, otherwise you'll drive yourself crazy trying to make it perfect in one round of revisions.

Before you can stamp FINISHED on this baby, you are going to have to find someone you trust to read it and honestly mark problem areas. That's a post all its own too. For now, let's take a nibble and concentrate on Plot and subplots.

Here are some great links to help you learn all you might ever want to know about plot.

Single Most Powerful Writing Tool by I highly recommend this site. This post list several questions you should be asking yourself about your story.
Six things I wish I'd known when writing my first novel by Krista Van Dolzer via agent Weronika Janczuk's blog.
Planning Your Novel with Plot by Janice Hardy. She has 39 posts on plot, all of them a wealth of information. If you are just starting to follow blogs, I highly recommend this one too.
When Revising your manuscript seems too daunting by Rachael Harrie breaks the process down into bite size pieces.
Part 2 of How to write a home run story in 2011 by Feel free to follow his link and start with part one.
Stocking Stuffers: Revision from one of my favorites, Angela at the Bookshelf Muse. For this first round of revisions I especially recommend reading out loud since you may not have a critique partner yet.
J.K. Rowling and Plot Planning by S. Kyle Davis. He helps us learn from a genius. 

Other Posts of Interest:
The Pathway to Becoming a Best Selling Author by Stina Lindenblatt on
5 Reasons to Read Aloud by Elaine AM Smith. Yeah, even if you feel silly, you really should do this.