So many people commented on Yvonne Ventresca’s strategy of reverse outlining last week that I decided to share my techniques for “post draft outlining.”
By the time I type THE END on a first draft, I know all the things that are wrong with it, which may include:
- Important information I never found a place to insert
- Important information I inserted in several places, not sure which place would be best
- Plot holes
- Unnecessary side plots, characters, or clues I never ended up needing
- Inconsistent details in setting or world building
- Wavering character motivation
- Character changes (In the first draft of The Caged Graves, the character of Beulah Poole started out as a teenage girl. I realized about two thirds of the way through the first draft that I needed her to be an old woman!)
Immediately after the first draft, I create a side-by-side outline to guide my second draft revisions. In one column, I list the important events in each chapter. In the other column, I note what changes I’ll need to make. These include all the things I listed above, as well as events to delete or re-order and chapters that need to be combined or split apart.
In the case of The Caged Graves, a historical murder mystery, I also created an even briefer outline of the events in each chapter and color coded them: purple for the mystery of the graves, yellow for Verity’s romance, blue for the mystery of the Revolutionary War treasure. This helped me adjust the pacing and make sure that the main mystery remained in the forefront of the story, with the romance providing a counter-point and the secondary mystery appearing often enough to not be forgotten. If I found that one color took over an entire section of the story, or if one color disappeared for too long, I made notes on how to fix it.
Anyone else have an outlining (pre- or post-) to share?