rewriting checklist - agree or disagree - suggest changes

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mike m.
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rewriting checklist - agree or disagree - suggest changes

Postby mike m. » Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:14 pm


First plan and organise your novel so the first draft will be a solid starting point

• Never let anyone read your first draft.
• When it’s done, write a synopsis. You’ll see holes in your story.
• Rewrite beat sheet/outline: It should have changed in first draft.
• Clean up : Start with structure and work your way down to wordsmithing

Remove yourself as the writer and look at the work as a reader:
• Is the theme clear?
• Are you torturing protagonist enough?
• Is the world he lives interesting?
• Did you start story at the right place in the protagonist’s life?
• Have you chosen the right protagonist?
• Does protagonist evolve fully?
• Is antagonist the mirror of the protagonist?
• Is antagonist more interesting than protagonist?

• Take scenes one at a time, asking:
– Does it advance the story?
– Does it add exposition?
– Does it create conflict?
• If you can’t answer “yes” to 2 out of 3, cut the darling and move important exposition to a
different scene.
• If scene is really important to the story, brainstorm other conflicts you can add to it… ask
“what if?”

plots and subplots
• Re-Index card the script: One color for plot A, another for plot B, etc.
• Spread them on a table and move them around for pacing and suspense. What happens
when you cut straight from this moment to that moment? Play with the shuffling the scenes.
• Index cards: One color for protagonist, another for antagonist
• Put your “dead scenes” in a folder… you might need them back in a later rewrite.
• Analyze the beginning and ending of your scenes: Start late, leave early.
• Challenge each scene to serve its purpose in fewer words.
• Make the final line of each scene powerful… one that makes the reader have to turn the
• Goal is a “fast read.”

• Isolate each character, one at a time.
– Check for evolution
– Read dialogue out loud. Be sure the tone and voice are consistent and
unique to each character.
– Ask what the character is feeling in each scene. Are her actions and
dialogue consistent with those emotions?
• Count pages between scenes the protagonist is in. Don’t let him/her be off screen too

• Description: Less is more.
– Write visually: only what the audience needs to grok the scene
– Use action verbs
– No more than four lines of description.

• Less is more.
– Does it sound authentic or on-the-nose?
– Don’t recap something we already know
– Does each character have a unique voice (Read aloud, one at a time)
– Be quotable: Just two great lines turns an mss to gold.
– Can you convey some of that dialogue in action instead? That goes a
LONG way in making a novel more interesting.
– Use Twitter tip of making your dialogue only 140 characters long.

FINAL PASS: • Wordsmithing. Check for typos and grammar.

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