Friday, February 25, 2011

Finishing the Novel Revision Exercises

Whew, the end is finally in sight! Working with the plot arc concept I introduced several weeks ago takes some time. Today, we have the last of our questions. That doesn't mean the editing is over, of course -- but hopefully you have a good idea of the trouble spots in your manuscript. I'll be offering more suggestions on revision in the weeks ahead, including tips focused on beginnings and endings. I'll also be doing a series delving into theme. But for the moment, let's assume you have some idea of your theme for your current work in progress -- or else take some time now to work it out -- and ask these questions based on your plot arc.

Analyze Your Plot Arc for Theme:
  • Do you touch on your theme throughout the manuscript? Are there places where you can add references, perhaps oblique, to set it up better? 
  • Look at your character arc. Does the MC experience an epiphany? Does she see herself differently at the end? How will she behave differently now?
And finally, one last step (or series of steps, really):

Analyze Your Plot Arc for Smaller Details
  • Look at cause and effect. Does each scene lead logically to the next? Are they in the proper order? Are any redundant? If you cut the scene, would you lose anything? 
  • Do you include all the clues your readers need for the story to make sense and feel believable? 

  • How long are your chapters? Any unusual ones? Should you make changes?

  • Go back through the manuscript and mark cliffhanger moments (note the page numbers on your inventory). Do they match chapter breaks? Can you add more cliffhangers? (See my series of posts on cliffhangers -- you'll find the topic labels in the right-hand column.)

  • Can you expand your strongest scenes for more drama?
Going through these lists can feel overwhelming if you try to do everything in one day. Make sure you take your time over each step, so you get the most out of these questions. You may want to only address one or two of them in an editing session. And remember, at this point, you don't necessarily want to start fixing things. Rather, focus on making notes on your plot arc (that's why you left blank lines after each scene description) so you know how to handle the work on your revision.

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