|So what do you do with those manuscripts after you draft them? Do they sit in a pile and languish under the next rough draft? It's time to dust one off and start revising!
February EdMo Prep Challenge: 2012 Calendar
Editing and Revision Information: Forthcoming!
Friday, 01 February: Take in the depth of your novel. Decide how to break it into chunks.
The point is to find breaks where it is reasonable to work through them in a day. You will spend a great deal of time looking over the words you have already put to paper, and it is daunting to go through the entire novel in one sitting. We're going to use four sections for this challenge: beginning, complication, climax, resolution.
Saturday, 02 February: Beginning (Section 1): Read with new eyes. List each scene and the action that takes place. Refrain from making comments. Think of this as lining them up for triage. .
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? Is this novel a good showcase of that?
Sunday, 03 February: Beginning: Characters - What is the state of mind of each character in the beginning? Does each have a set objective? Is each character unique? Are there characters that only do one action and can be combined? Is your main character the one who stands to gain or lose the most through the story? What else is interesting about the main character? Can the reader identify with the main character's situation?
Monday, 04 February: Beginning: Plot - Is there enough going on in your plot? Does every single scene move the action forward? What else can go wrong? Can you add subplots and plot layers?
Plots, subplots, and plot layers
Tuesday, 05 February: Beginning: Description and Narration - Do you stop to describe the scene every time you have a setting change? Does the action flow around the descriptions you use? Are you telling all the actions and not showing them? Modes of Fiction Writing
Wednesday, 06 February: Free Day
Option: Point of View - Do you switch POV through your manuscript? Is there a method, or are you head-hopping?
Thursday, 07 February: Genre: Why does this book fit in a certain genre? What are the elements that make it interesting to the readers of those kinds of books? What sets this book apart from other books with similar characters or plots or other elements?
Also remember that this genre search can be linked to research for agents and publishers who will be interested in queries for your book.
Friday, 08 February: Complication (Section 2): Read with new eyes. Line up each scene for triage in a list. Refrain from making comments.
Saturday, 09 February: Complication: Characters. Are your characters showing themselves? Is there depth to your main characters? Are your minor characters stealing scenes where they shouldn't? Do you have characters that walk on and off the stage without doing anything troublesome?
Update your appearance list. Do you call attention to characters who only appear once? Why? Do you need them?
Sunday, 10 February: Complication: Plot - Is there enough going on in your plot? Does every single scene move the action forward? What else can go wrong? Do your subplots and layers continue to add depth to the story? Are you raising the stakes?
Somewhere in the first section there should have been a point of change- where the hero had to go forward or the protagonist had to change from the initial inertia. In the second section we get more complications as the characters encounter more trouble. Check the flow between dialogue, narration, internal dialogue, exposition, description, and summarization.
Monday, 11 February: Complication: Description and Narration - Remember show, don't tell. Make the reader pay attention to what's important, even if it might be a red herring. If you need them to go down the wrong road, lead them there with your cast through their actions. Remember not to gloss over things that are important later, and don't dwell on the wrong answer just to beat your reader over the head with it.
Tuesday, 12 February: Major Characters: Dialogue - Can you tell your characters apart only by the things they say and how they phrase their thoughts? Do some of them get lost in a sea of words? Try sampling several sentences of each character without tags and see if you (and/or a partner) can tell them apart.
Wednesday, 13 February: Free Day
Option: Research - Are there items that you thought you needed more information about, but didn't want to stop your draft to find them out? Now is the time.
Thursday, 14 February: Climax (Section 3): Read with new eyes. Line up each scene for triage in a list. Refrain from making comments.
Friday, 15 February: Climax: Characters. Are new main characters coming on the scene in this section? Do you feel for your main characters? Do you think you know what is coming for them? What surprises are left to spring on your reader? Make sure there is groundwork for the changes in the protagonist and other characters.
Saturday, 16 February: Climax: Plot - Is there enough going on in your plot? Does every single scene move the action forward? What else can go wrong? Do your subplots and layers continue to add depth to the story? Are you raising the stakes? Are you nearing the climax?
Check the flow between dialogue, narration, internal dialogue, exposition, description, and summarization. Did your middle "sag"? Make sure you keep the surprises coming as you near that final climax.
Sunday, 17 February: Climax: Description and Narration - Is this at the same level as the beginning? Or did you need to rush through scenes when the words began flowing and stopped describing? Or was this where the action lagged and you decided to use three adjectives and adverbs per sentence?
Monday, 18 February: Clarity and Focus: Do your words come across easily to the reader? Does each sentence follow a direct path or do some of them wander freely? Are you a minimalist with words or do some sentences seem like they need to be broken into paragraphs? Take a look at the overall readability of your story and compare them on a scale. Is this something a kid could handle? Are you aiming at a literary audience? You want to match up your style to your audience.
While I cannot help you understand all the metrics, they may be of use in your quest.
Here is a link that might give more information on those tests:
Remember that depending on your audience, lowering that score might not be the goal when you write.
Tuesday, 19 February: Theme: Why does someone want to read this book? We're looking larger than just a moral to the story. Why is someone going to pull this book off the shelf - or pick it up in an e-store - and read it cover to cover?
Wednesday, 20 February: Free Day
Option: Voice - Yes, this is different from dialogue. What is your 'voice' as a storyteller? Is a narrator telling the story? Is it the protagonist? Is it someone else entirely? You want to identify this as a strong point because one of the great things about voice is it will carry the reader whether he wants to go with you or not. Make this strong and make sure it stays strong throughout the manuscript.
Thursday, 21 February: Resolution (Section 4): Read with new eyes. Line up each scene for triage in a list. Refrain from making comments.
Friday, 22 February: Resolution: Characters. How have things changed? Is it just the situation, or are there lasting differences in your characters from the beginning? Have the characters completely changed from their original tendencies (and stretch the reader's believe-ability too far?) Did the characters react to the climax?
Saturday, 23 February: Resolution: Plot - Is there enough going on in your plot? Does every single scene move the action forward? What else can go wrong? Where was your climax? Did you answer the questions you raised from the beginning? Check the flow between dialogue, narration, internal dialogue, exposition, description, and summarization.
Sunday, 24 February: Resolution: Description and Narration - Is this consistent through the story? Are there settings you paint more vividly than others? Are certain objects more descriptive? Are the important things in focus and the background just the background?
Monday, 25 February: Logic: How much does it make sense for this novel to go the way you originally wrote it? Did you have a nice supper scene when aliens landed because your romantic plot fizzled? Are there scenes where you spent too much time on a minor character or a subplot that didn't make sense? Did you start the story where the action started?
Check your scene list from your triage. Your plot threads should weave through the story line without faltering. There should be order to how events unfold and the way in which we learn them. Do not mistake this for making your characters act logically instead of emotionally or taking the drama away from your plot.
Tuesday, 26 February: Structure: Are there elements of your novel that must follow a certain structure? Is it a hero's journey or a romance? Make sure the overall structure of the novel compares to the reader's expectations.
Wednesday, 27 February: Free Day
Option: Once is Enough - Are you beating the readers over the head trying to make a point? Don't be afraid to say it once and move on. Identify the points that are redundant and mark them to get rid of!
Thursday, 28 February: Hook: This applies especially to the first page, first chapter. What makes the reader turn the page? Does the book start with a lot of setup or backstory where the reader can walk away? Chapter breaks are made for cliffhangers and you never, ever want the reader to put the book down. Where you can put in breaks to make certain readers only want more?
NaNoEdMo achievement goals are 50 hours of editing in 30 days of March. http://www.nanoedmo.net/xoops2/
For those who wish to take on NaNoEdMo for real in March: Objectives: Set a calendar for yourself for March. How much time are you going to spend editing this novel every day? Are you going to set a page count or word count instead of a time limit? What reward will you set yourself for completing this challenge? What will you do if you don't meet your goal?