Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Writing Tip Tuesday

As your story gets longer, it's easy to lose your way and sometimes hard to see the story as a whole (the forest vs. the trees). I tend to treat each chapter individually, scene by scene, so I need a way to help me see if they are all working well together.

As I progress from chapter to chapter, I make a "map" of my story by copying and pasting the first paragraph and the last paragraph of each chapter. I also make a note of the timeline of each chapter (e.g., two days later, the next day, etc.), as well as the setting (e.g., at the creek, in the motorhome, etc.).

So, it looks something like this:

Chapter 1 (at the creek)
First paragraph: blah blah blah
Last paragraph: blah blah blah

Chapter 2 (two days later; in the motorhome)
First paragraph: blah blah blah
Last paragraph: blah blah blah

Chapter 3 (the next day; at school)

The story map serves a number of important purposes for me. It shows me very quickly:

1. The timeline (Is it logical and correct?)
2. The balance (or lack of balance) of the setting
3. The pace (Does it move quickly enough? Where does it slow down?)
4. The consistency (or inconsistency) of tone
5. The logical (or illogical) sequencing of events
6. Whether or not I have hooks for chapter beginnings and page turners for chapter endings
7. If any of my chapters are too similar/repetitive (particularly with regard to action or emotion)
8. The whole story "at a glance."


Libby Donovan said...

This is brilliant! I'm currently working on my second manuscript and am definitely going to use this idea!

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

This is so helpful! I'm trying to revise two novels at the moment. I can't wait to try this. And by the way, I love your novels. I tout them to all of the kids I know. :)

Kristin said...

Thanks, Barbara! Great tip!

Crystal said...

Wonderful idea! Thanks, Barbara!