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Friday Snippet – Arcana

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

I don’t really have “new words” to show yet because I’m developing a major revision plan for RHP, the Fast Draft novel I did March 2007. I’m close (supposed to be done by 1/5 on my 2008 schedule, but not sure if that’s gonna happen yet!). Now titled Arcana, this project might just be the one that kills me. I’ve consulted nearly every “how to” book under the sun to come up with the best way to handle this revision.

What’s the big deal, you ask? I wrote 51K in 11 days, a “complete” first draft. Now I have to take that mess, figure out what to keep, fix all the things that developed mid way through and lay all that groundwork, AND somehow nearly double the word count. Piece of cake, right? I just couldn’t SEE the story in my head. I wrote it once. My brain insisted it was done. Normally, I’d polish what I had, fix the grammar, tie all the loose threads, etc. but that won’t work for this story. Fixing what I had might have added 10K. It wasn’t going to add 30-50K, which is where this story needed to be.

After months of confusion and anxiety, I finally stumbled across First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner. There’s a nice section that descibes how to take an existing work and develop an outline/revision plan for it, even if you didn’t start with an outline in the first place. I’m not doing every single step as recommended, but the general idea is helping me tremendously.

One thing FDin30D recommends is a “Day Sheet.” I’ve created a “Block” several times, showing the scene number, POV, and a title that might only mean something to me, but the Day Sheet goes a bit further. It shows the day (duh) as well as the total number of scenes at that point for that particular character. Add some color coding by POV, and at a glance, I can see the balance of threads building in the story.

Another thing I was having problems visualizing were the threads: characters, themes, elements, subplots. Especially the difference between a thread I already had in the first draft but needed to fix, versus a brand new thread that needed to be brought through all the story as I went. Another spreadsheet to the rescue, which I’m calling the Theme Sheet. Add to that the Outline (built from “Story Capsules”) and my 100 or so notecards, numerous notebooks and scribbles, and you can see I’m having a TON of fun with this story with nary a “new word” in sight.

So I think all I’ll show today is a chunk of the Day Sheet. I’m still working on it. The titles might not mean anything at all to you. I might change it a dozen times yet. But it’s rather interesting to see it taking shape.

Day Scene POV POV Count Scene Title
1 001 Emmaline 1 Hysterics
1 002 Nevarre 1 Book Under False Pretenses
1 003 Emmaline 2 Surging Magic
1 004 Violet 1 Sisterly Spat
1 005 Emmaline 3 Boring Country Dance
1 006 Aubrey 1 Taunting the Raven
1 007 Nevarre 2 Sleeping Guardian
1 008 Emmaline 4 Some days…
2 009 Emmaline 5 In the Library
2 010 Nevarre 3 Nocturna School Must Close

I’ve got over 40 scenes in the tables and I’m only about 1/3 of the way through my index cards….! Maybe I created a few too many plot elements. ;-)

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