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Putting it all on the line

I've been stuck in revision mode for the past week or so, kind of stymied by how to go at my plot changes. I was brainstorming–my husband was nice enough to point out a gaping plot hole on the way back from the boys' swim meet at Auburn on Sunday–and trying to talk to my characters, but mostly feeling overwhelmed.

The main reason was that I needed a big picture view of the scenes so that I could decide which ones needed cut or modified, and where new scenes would fill in the holes.

Scrivener has a nice outliner, but I can't print it out in a format that I wanted, so today I sat down with 11×17 paper and colored markers and went to work on a timeline-style outline. It was amazing. Just the act of writing down each scene with a bullet list of key events sparked ideas for changes and plot issues that I hadn't yet resolved.

And sometimes, I just need to work on paper, especially when brainstorming or trying to see the whole picture.

The strong marker scent may have had something to do with it too. I asked my tweeps if “nontoxic” only applies to eating, but no one wanted to go there. ūüėČ

I got through 12 of 16 chapters, and came up with several pages of notes too. The best part is that I'm excited about rewriting the story that only this morning had me dreading the keyboard.

Here's a small portion of the color-coded timeline I created. Blue for the hero's POV and pink for the heroine's. (The same colors I use in Scrivener.) Green and orange for a couple other characters who get a scene or two of their own. The ball-point pen is for my notes on changes.

Now that I look back at it, I wonder why I didn't do this sooner. I think each book is a learning experience because we don't just learn how to write better. We learn how to be better writers, more effective writers, and writers who understand the methods that work for us.

In the end, that may be even more important than mastering the craft of writing.
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