This has been the shortest two weeks of my writing life. The mentees have a little over two months to get their books together, and for most of us, that means two rounds of edits in quick succession.

I’m currently aiming for around 50-70 pages per week, which gets me done with R1 just before Christmas, and my timeline is generous compared to a lot of the class of ’19! So far I’ve already done a bottom-up rewrite of chapters 1 and 2, revised 3 and 4, got stuck on 5 and 6 and hit a panic button, and am sorting it out with mentor help.

I’m slightly behind where I want to be, in part because of the panic, and in part because I had to make a revision outline.

You’d think that would be the MOST OBVIOUS THING, but I am the pantsing queen. I never know anything about my books except where they start, and when I’m revising I only have the vaguest notion of the story as a whole for an embarrassingly long time (think multiple drafts). I was kind of hoping to get through pitch wars without outlining at all.

No such luck.

So I set myself a challenge. I was going to write a fresh outline without looking at my book to see if I could remember all the important points, where cause-and-effect come into play, and changes I intended. After all, if I couldn’t connect the dots, how could a reader?

Even after 5 drafts (more on this in a later post!), after finishing I still found things I left out because it turned out they weren’t actually important, and places that needed to be bridged because I hadn’t properly established them. I highly recommend this technique for anyone unsure if their story works as a whole or who has never made an outline- see if the plot and character arcs have stuck with you enough that you can lay out the dominoes and knock them over from memory. Anything that you can’t remember probably won’t stick with the reader, either.

Craft Resource of the Week:

I tried to teach myself to love outlining with Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat Writes a Novel. It hasn’t entirely worked, but I understand story beats a lot better now, and the dissections of popular novels are gold!