A Writer’s Life: The Big Edit

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

I got to the halfway point on “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet” and realized I had lots of notes, things I wanted to improve and tweak, and so on.  In general I wanted to “tune up” what I had and improve my plot outline.  So I did something kind of ambitious: I decided to review the entire first half of the book scene by scene, both adding and rewriting, as well as fleshing out the plot outline.

Yeah.  Kinda stupidly ambitious?  Probably was a good 6-8 hours of work.

It was also totally worth it.

First, it let me get in touch with my story.  Over time I’ve been rereading parts of it, but seeing the whole sweep really helped.  I kind of wonder if I need to do this at the 3/4 mark.

Secondly, it let me tone up my writing.  Always good to apply lessons learned later to earlier writing.  It’s been especially good as I’ve been “shaking off the rust” of having not done fiction for awhile.

Third, it let me improve the plot and story in both the large and small.  A big review in a short time – not quite a revision or rewrite – did wonders for making things better and tighter.

Fourth, I got the characters down even better.  Seeing them in the big picture and small, in a short time, let me tighten them up.

Fifth, I got the “mood changes” much better.  I can see the big picture and how the mood shifts (more later).

Sixth, it got me the improved plot outline (at least for what I wrote, see below).  I now have every scene noting major goals and major character attitudes.  That’s something I should have done before, but I got it now.

What was also kind of amazing is how starting to write the second half felt.  The characters felt more solid, the shift in moods more real, the sense of plot tighter.  Diving into writing after this review has taken all I learned and applied it.

(It’s probably good to keep writing after such a review so those lessons get applied).

Of course as I go on and write the second half, I want to take an hour or two to review the plot notes I have and revise that as well, which should take all my lessons here and solidify them.

(Remember I do all sorts of books on creativity to help you out!)

– Steve