Revision Xibalba has been going well the last few weeks. Which is good. Great! Until I ran out of “Block” today.
NSR contains the most complex plot I’ve ever woven before. Although the first draft is finished–so I know where the main story arc goes and ends–I’ve added two new POVs, each with its own sub-plot. Those two sub-plots meet at the same time the main story arc reaches its climax. Revision “Hell” has been appropriate, because I’ve got several concurrent threads to handle, in different parts of the world, but they have to MEET at the right time. Some sections are finished in first draft. Others I haven’t started. Now as I work through the second major draft, some scenes have been edited and smoothed. Others haven’t.
It’s been insane, challenging, and even though I may bitch about it, I’m loving every minute of it.
I’ve used section “blocks” (like the one I created for 7 Crows last night) many times before, but this time, I needed more detail than ever. I ended up using the “Day Sheet” idea talked about in Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days (which oddly, I’ve never used for first draft, but for major revisions!) and manipulating it into something useful for this project.
Today over lunch, my great achievement was going through the old first draft, my stack of notecards, my jotted notes, and finishing the Day Sheet, at least a first draft which can be used to complete the rest of the revision. (Note: I’m not a rigid writer. This spreadsheet WILL change. It gives me a guide to go by, but if in writing the section, I feel a break is needed or a different scene will flow better, I’ll do so, and then make the corresponding change to the table.)
At a glance, this is how much work I have left to finish. Notes follow the table.
|Day||Scene||POV||Total POVs for Character||Status||Location||Chapter||Count||Scene Title|
|3 PM||040||Ruin||8||SD||Lake Atitlan||My Last Sacrifice|
|3 PM||041||Jaid||22||SD||Lake Atitlan||Everything has a Cost|
|3 PM||042||Quinn||6||FD||Dallas||Bad Things, Amigo|
|3 PM||043||Ruin||9||SD||Chi’Ch’ul||Price of Sacrifice|
|3 PM||044||Jaid||23||SD||Chi’Ch’ul||Jaguar Kiss|
|3 PM||045||Jaid||24||SD||Chi’Ch’ul||Through the Navel|
|3 PM||046||Tara||7||IP||Venus Star||Nightmares Come Alive|
|3 PM||047||Ruin||10||FD||Chich’en Itza||Low Reserves|
|3 PM||048||Jaid||25||FD||Chich’en Itza||Everyone Dies|
|3 PM||029||Quinn||7||NS||Dallas||Team Update|
|4 AM||050||Ruin||11||FD||Chich’en Itza||Cost of Magic|
|4 AM||051||Jaid||26||FD||Chich’en Itza||Hidden Dagger|
|4 AM||052||Ruin||12||FD||Chich’en Itza||Blood Keyed|
|4 AM||053||Jaid||27||FD||Chich’en Itza||Drowning in Blood|
|4 AM||054||Tara||8||NS||Venus Star||Save a Life|
|4 PM||056||Jaid||29||FD||Iximche||Translation Under Duress|
|4 PM||057||Ruin||13||FD||Iximche||Heart’s Duty|
|4 PM||058||Quinn||8||NS||Dallas||Hospital Visit|
|4 PM||059||Jaid||30||FD||Iximche||Iximche Key|
|4 PM||060||Jaid||31||FD||Iximche||Desperate Bargain|
|4 PM||061||Jaid||32||FD||Iximche||To Xibalba|
|4 PM||062||Tara||9||NS||Venus Star||Venus Star Showdown|
|4 PM||063||Ruin||14||FD||Iximche||Butterfly’s Devastation|
|4 PM||064||Jaid||33||FD||Iximche||The Caged Heart|
|4 PM||065||Ruin||15||FD||Iximche||My Heart is Yours|
|4 PM||066||Quinn||9||NS||Venus Star||The Dallas Gate|
|4 PM||067||Jaid||34||FD||Iximche||The Final Death|
|4 PM||070||Jaid||36||FD||Iximche||Closed and Locked|
|4 PM||071||T/Q||10||NS||Venus Star||Tie Up|
|4 PM||072||Jaid||37||FD||Iximche||Tie Up|
- Color coding is important for me. I can see at a glance if the POVs make a pleasing tapestry of Story. Usually the color means something specific to a character, or invokes a “feeling” in me about the character.
- I ended up not using the chapter and word count columns after I got knee-deep in revision. I’ll leave them off next time.
- The day column isn’t specific. e.g. 3 PM means the 3rd day, sometime after noon and before midnight. When I finish this draft, I intend to go back through and read for time incongruences only. e.g. I can’t have Tara do something in the morning, and then switch the scene and it’s night in Guatemala, and then go back to Dallas and it’s noon. This isn’t science fiction!
- I pick section titles that should immediately invoke the details of the section, but the day sheet alone isn’t enough of an “outline” for me, if very much time elaspes. E.g. I have notecards for each section with details and thoughts jotted down, and every time I *don’t* write something down because I think I’ll remember it, I end up kicking myself.
- Status = FD (first draft complete), SD (second draft with editing/smoothing complete), IP (in progress), NS (not started).
- I backtracked to the scene in red at the top because it needs a rather major revision after I finished the rest of the block today. I have something happening too early there and it needs to be removed.
Have you ever done or needed something this complex before? Or am I simply making it too hard on myself?
3 thoughts on “NSR Block”
You think you’re making it hard on yourself but honestly? This looks like something that might save my sanity. 😕 I can see why you like color coding too, I automatically got a feel for different moods with each shift in POV even though I don’t know the characters well. Weird. Still, you’re making great progress and thank you sooo much for posting this.
Im horrible with making up charts on my own. I always feel like I’m missing “something” and then find myself having to re-do it. This looks very concise though.
Glad it helped. Soleil! I don’t always need this much detail, but it definitely gives me a snapshot of the entire story. It does more than tell me what comes next — it lets me decide before I write whether there’s balance across the sections and POVs. Some of that might change once I’m actually writing, but I can see right off that I’ve got enough green and red POVs to balance the main story arc, and that was my number one concern. Timing in this story is crucial.
This looks like what I need to do with Novel # 1 (a.k.a., the spaghetti-plot novel). I’ve thought about doing stuff like this, heard about, but never seen an example – so this could turn out to be really helpful! I hope!