Weekly Musing: I Know Why Writers Drink

No, I’m not going to talk about alcoholism and authors. If you want that kind of info just do a search.

Without intending to, here’s an update of my progress on revising my novel. August was an incredibly productive month for me. I managed to finish the initial round of revision done for one of the two main characters. This was amazing considering it took me all of July to get through four chapters yet last month I got through nineteen chapters.

There were a few things which helped me get into a groove. The biggest was constructing a thumbnail outline of the character’s story. I have down numerous outlines to help me figure out a general idea. For some reason, doing a simple two or three sentence description for each chapter and assigning chapter number helped me “get” the bigger picture.

Doing this helped me figure out what scenes to cut as well as see holes. This meant I had to draft new chapters and adjust other chapters which is fine. The thumbnail outline also makes it easier for me to move chapters around to see how the story is affected. Obviously this is the point of revision.

Another added benefit came as I was looking ahead to tackling the other main character. Once I was done working on the story for the first character, I did a quick outline for the other one. Since their storylines eventually combine, I had a better visual of the structure and flow of the story.  

Finally nailing down the time scope for the story was another big moment. This is something I have literally struggled with for years. I know the story was going to span more than a year yet I knew I did not want it cover the entire historical conflict that serves as the catalyst and background. But what years to pick?

Once again I employed keeping it simple. I combed over my research and scribbled down the years with the most activity. Then I compared that timeline with the characters’ stories. With a few adjustments I now had my time scope. I wrote out a quick, one-page summary of historical events with a sentence about where each character would be in relation to it. Finally getting a chance to “see” this helped me notice some of the decisions the characters make would be supported by what was going on historically.

It seems the theme of keeping it simple was big in August. Another useful aid was creating a cheat sheet of info for each character. What this means was I already knew the name of parents and siblings of each character, but instead of flipping back and forth from Scrivener to my manuscript printout, I just retyped it. I left plenty of room on the page to handwrite minor characters who pop up that are associated with each character.

Something I added to the cheat sheet of info was a literal road map. This was another area I’d been struggling for years. Again, turning to history and Google Maps, I was able to approximate where people should be. The road map had to be backed up by history so that meant the story would have to be adjusted accordingly.

I was also able to estimate how long it would take characters to travel from one place to another. Of course the times are based in a perfect world. Since I identified my occupation on a recent medical form as Creator of Worlds and Puppet Master, this means I was now allowed to further mess up their journeys. *insert evil laugh here*

As it stands now, I have 23 revised chapters and am at a total of 57,591 words. This is for one character. I know there are chapters which are bloated while others are deficient. This is okay because I am nowhere near the final product.

Due to all these epiphanies in August, I am vastly more hopeful I will be able to get a complete first round revision done by November. Just in time for NaNo where I plan to write a different kind of novel, one that may or may not be revised. With all I’ve learned during August I believe I can carry the momentum into September and October. For now, though, if you’ll excuse me, there is a lake house friends and I are renting for the weekend with moonshine and other kinds of alcohol, games, and football calling my name. A well needed break to clear my frazzled mind.



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