After the First Draft

A little while ago, I mentioned that I was doing a happy dance because I had finished my first draft. So what am I doing now? Revisions.
I am working to become better at planning my books before I write them, but I still make the bulk of my discoveries while writing the first draft. So when it’s done, I’m left with something best described as a serious mess, filled with scenes that don’t connect, scenes that have been hijacked, and all-caps notes notes to myself like ADD DESCRIPTIVE ACTION HERE.
So how do I get from there to a cohesive book?
Step one is tplot2o go through the draft, making an index card for each scene. There’s not a lot on there. Usually it’s just a few words describing the main action of the scene.
Step two is to lay out the cards in their current order, broken down by act.
Step three is to stare at the cards, swear a lot, and figure out if/how I need to rearrange them to tell the story for maximum effect.
Step fourScreenshot 2014-08-03 17.30.42, after I’ve rearranged the cards, is to list the scenes on a spreadsheet. I also add any notes I’ve made while going through the story, and – this is a biggie – clarify how this scene will impact the character’s emotional growth. Will this action challenge their thinking? Reinforce their beliefs? Make them see the other characters in a whole new light? Emotional growth is a real challenge for me, so I must break it down for both the hero and heroine and make sure I’m moving each of them through all the necessary changes.
Step five is where I’m at now: the actual rewriting. The challenge at this point is to make sure I go back to the spreadsheet before starting the work for day, so all that intensive thinking doesn’t go to waste!

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