Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wednesday Writing with 2 Felines ~ Reverse Outlining

There's a lot you can do when you edit a picture. Take the two examples above. The first picture shows two cats on a green blanket, possibly in a garage. There's a lot of detail that really isn't necessary. After cropping, the second picture shows just the one cat and his whiskers and sleepy eyes.
The same type of editing works for writing. Less background detail (i.e. info dumping), close up detail (character's flaws, etc) and focus (insights, hints, foreshadowing).

I had the good luck to attend ANWA's (American Night Writer's Association) Time Out For Writers Conference in February 2015. And lucky enough to go to Phoenix where it was 70 while back home it was 30. I even got a light tan line.
But I digress...
There were many classes I really enjoyed, but the one from Lisa Magnum's stuck with me so I want to share it with you. I really needed a new way of editing and this helped tremendously.

Reverse Outlining

1.    Examine each chapter
a.     Who is the star?
b.     What new info is learned?
c.      What action is taken?
d.     Does the plot move forward?
2.    Follow every character’s thread
a.     Where do they begin?
b.     What are the events that trigger change?
c.      Is there a logical progression to their development?
d.     Where do they end?
3.    Summarize main theme
a.     What symbols have you used to communicate the theme?
b.     Are there areas in the manuscript where you can strengthen without being obvious?

I opened a new document and went through each chapter for step #1. It was eye-opening and very informative. Here, let me show you part of what I did:

Ch 5 letter

Emma is affected by weather. Keeps busy cleaning.
Major Henry gets a dance going. He chivalrous. William G. Henry
Nielson is Major Henry’s soldier and plays the fiddle.
*** does Dr. Peyren play the fiddle earlier? Or talk about it?
Priscilla is affected by Major Henry. She dances with patients.

The asterisks are ideas or missing information I want to add. After I worked on this chapter, I italicized this so I knew that I had finished the work.
After I finished step #1, I would do #2, then #3. This editing only took me a couple of days but I felt like it upped my story and made it better. 

What do you do to edit? 

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