Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Fricassee

My brain keeps telling me it's Saturday. Must have something to do with the fact that Mr. A has a three-day weekend. When he skulks unshowered about the house, it gives life that distinctively "Saturday" feel.

It's also gross. But that's a matter of personal taste.

It's been a slow week in blogland, on both ends. I'm confident that things will pick up next week when I post the guidelines for our upcoming Secret Agent contest. Feels like ages since our last one!

In the meantime, let's talk about editing habits.

I've got two packs of notecards sitting on the desk--one white, one multicolored. And an uber-dorky, plastic notecard case. Couldn't resist that.

Now, you may already be the notecard-keeping type. For me, however, this is completely new ground. I'm going to take my shiny notecards and use a different color for each plot line in my novel.

Granted, the pastel hues don't lend themselves to the tone of my YA dystopian. Walgreen's didn't offer anything else, and I didn't feel like driving all the way to Wal-Mart. So baby blue and soft lavender will have to suffice.

I'm excited! And I'm nervous. The rate at which I pushed through the first draft lends itself to inevitable hiccups along the way--dropped threads, incomplete arcs, unclear resolutions, basic inconsistencies. I plan on using my notecards to sort it all out, tightening each thread as I tighten the writing.

Part of me feel overwhelmed at the prospect of beginning. And part of me is confident that this approach is going to work. Really, truly work.

What about you? Do you use notecards? Word documents? Sheets of authentic papyrus? How do you revisit each storyline after you've got your first draft nailed? Do you work on each storyline individually, or do you work on each one as you get to it, from chapter one to the end?

What's your magic formula?

I'll let you know how the notecards fare. If I get just get myself to remove the shrink wrap and scribble those first, few words...



  1. I've heard of people using post-it notes of different colours..writing each plot line out on a different colour then moving them around a flat surface.

    Me..I make it up as I go along. Sometimes I plan a section at a time. And I rewrite when it's going wrong. It can be wasteful effort-wise, but I can't seem to do it any other way. Yet.

  2. LOL, I'm a papyrus fan myself...
    I'm more of a plotter/planner that feels compelled to edit my first draft as I'm writing.

    I still wind up with holes in the plot and loose ends or missing scenes. So I start writing up a synopsis. That way I have the synopsis started and I wind up spotting the trouble areas at the same time.

    Everything else I do from that point on is not so organized. It basically involves reading it over and over again, sending it out to betas and reading/editing again. Repeat as necessary.

  3. I'm working on a new notecard system myself. I assigned each character a different color. Then I tacked a long sheet of newsprint along one wall of my office and wrote the timeline of my WIP across the top, month by month.

    I write each event in the story on a card. If more than one character is involved, I cut the cards in half or thirds and glue them together, making a kind of striped card. Then I stick the cards to the timeline, near the top of the paper if it's a rising action, near the bottom if it's falling action. Ideally, the cards should be about equally spaced along the paper, and I'll be able to see color "holes" where characters disappear for a while and need to be included.

    I just came up with this a couple of weeks ago, so I don't know yet how well it will work.

  4. I do everything on the laptop. After I've done the first draft - I make a new file as a bare outline. I list chapter #, pov and 1 or sentences to synopsize. A friend of mine adds "action, reaction or consequence", but I havne't got that advanced yet :)

    I learned not to put page numbers with the chapter numbers - way too frustrating to change when I edit.

    I just keep both files open side by side and update as I go.

  5. If you've got an iMac or Macbook-- get Scrivener. It's amazing. You can follow your plot, sup-plots, characters, write your synopsis and outline as you go, split the screen and have your first and second draft on the same screen, highlight, tag, hunt down keywords, divide your work up into scenes and sequels, and more. then when you are totally finished, export the whole thing into proper manuscript form and begin querying. All of this for a measly $40.

    This is what I'm using. I get no kickback -- it's just an awesome writing software program. Here's the link:

    Unfortunately, it only works on a Mac.

  6. I'm a big fan of using 3x5 cards. After a first or second draft I go through and do one scene per card. I usually force myself to summarize in two sentences: sentence one is the ACTION occurring, while sentence two tells what progress is going on INTERNALLY to my main character. That way I can see which scenes aren't doing one or the other and either fix it or pull it out. Then I clear my living room floor and spread all the cards out and see what I've got. I can divide them up by climactic moments, chapter breaks, etc. It's really quite fun! :)

  7. MS Visio! Block flow diagrams, that way you can move them around, draw connectors...etc.

    Much easier than paper. But if you don't have visio, the cost may be prohibitive.

  8. I'm a panster like Keren seems to be. I write several chapters, then go back, read, rewrite, and make notes. But my notes aren't on paper, they're on a digital voice recorder. It goes everywhere with me. So if I'm in the car and I'm "reading" the book in my head (mainly going over plot lines or random, minuscule themes int he story) and I realize there's a horrible plot hole, or (this is more than likely) inconsistency, I say it outloud. I take the recorder with me to my workshop where I read a chapter at a time and record their comments. Then I go home, plug in my headphones, and listen to everything before plowing through the manuscript. Seems to work so far. I'm almost completely 100% finished. =)

  9. I just finished what you're starting and I found it worked best for me to:

    Find a crique group.
    Stop pouting.
    Stop pouting (big one)
    Make Critque Group notes
    Print new copy
    Go through entire work, asking if each bit is necessary (referred to as the Great Hack-n-Slash).
    Go through cleaning up rubble left over from GHnS.
    Force back on Critique Group.
    Stop Arguing.
    Fill gaps back in, rewrite new content to fit with new timeline.
    Print out different-looking copy (change font, paper color, whatever works for you). That helped with seeing typos and other mechanicals.
    Compile 'good writing' checklist, made of wise counsel, experienced colleague's advice, and remembering what you like best as a reader.
    Read manuscript with "good writing" checklist on hand.
    Bed Critique group to have one more go at it.
    Polish for mechanical errors (copy edit).
    Begin stressing like mad about your Query letter and other submission materials, which will be ten times harder to write than the novel ever thought of being.

  10. I've tried oversized post-it notes (although not the colour coded visual mentioned by Michelle). My biggest problem is reading straight through to find out story line gaps. I get caught up in line edits, especially if I have the document open on the computer. Right now, I'm using Office Live and reading it on the computer and making notes on glaring errors as I go along. Still can't seem to just read the stupid thing, though.

  11. BEG!!! BEG the critique group. I suggest--for the sake of your marriage--not BEDding the CG.

  12. Not a problem, since Mr A IS my critique group. ;)

  13. I don't have any set method to go through the manuscript and make changes. I probably need to figure something out that I'll stick with.

    My problem is that I peeter out after a few chapters. Right now, I've got to finish editing my last chapter and I've let it sit for months. (Yikes!) Not that I'm not "working" on it in my mind. I just haven't put pen to paper, so to speak.

    So I applaud you, Authoress, for your efforts.

  14. Unfortunately, it only works on a Mac.

    Finally! A program designed JUST for Mac. I get so frustrated when I hear about a neat program and then learn it's only for PCs.

    I'm going to see if I can get it for my eMac.

  15. I agree with those who mentioned Scrivener--a FANTASTIC program.

    I finished my ms. the Friday after you finished yours...and I've started revising, too :) I did a whole series of posts on how I was revising earlier this week if you'd like to check it out.

  16. Cork board, and tear up pieces of paper. They include:
    Date/date/time line.
    Brief description of what happened
    eg. fixing engine
    Upstairs 1st time
    Meets bla bla
    (Since I know the story I only need prompts)

    This is a map for me. It helps with Synopsis as well.
    Critique will be for clarity.
    Generally by the time I've finished my edits (probably three or four times right through) I don't need spelling or grammer because I've done it as I want it. But I did make an unwitting mistake in current WIP in a timeline which was picked up by two people.

    But I think edits need to be straight read throughs from beginning to end so you get the stream. In my case I need now to stretch the word count by about 4-5 000 words which is a bit of a mixed blessing/evil. But it's better than to be trying to condense when you think it really doesn't want to do that.


  17. No magic formula here. I just print the whole derned thing out and then attack it with a red pen and a notebook. I ink everything up and jot things down along the way (complete with little notations for where each notation goes).

    Usually that's enough to get me through, but the story I'm editing right now needs more. This time I took out everything pertaining to a certain arc and saved it in a separate file. I'll fix it there and add it back in later.

    Good luck with the edits.

  18. I bought some colored notecards a year ago. Haven't used them yet. As I work through my drafts, I make notes either on my storyline Word document or, most commonly, I post stick-ups on my walls as thoughts come to me that affected later scenes. Let's just say my bedroom wall is quite colorful right now--and it has nothing to do with the cream colored paint.

    I'm also working through the book, Manuscript Makeover, and it's making a tremendous difference. At least I think it is. My editing seems to be more orginized now, and it'll only take a few drafts to be finished compared to last time. Okay, my writing has improved, too. So that always helps. ;)

  19. Initially, I used flow charts. Like so many of the programs, it allows shapes and connecting lines, so a visual tool. But paper kept calling. I now use note pads that come in different shapes so that, visually, which is a character vs. an event without reading anything. Plus, there are so many designs that are bright that it keeps things interesting. Once done, it seems the story flows & I haven't worried about keeping them in any order.

    Good luck with notecards.

  20. Since I handwrote my manuscripts for ten years before able to get a 'puter. I'm still in the habit of using a big tattered notebook for editing notes, character outlines, ideas etc. It's not very organized or pretty, but I'm the only one to see it.