4.23.2010

Novel Revision, Step Four: Summarize

It took me several days of floundering to figure out what to do with the marked-up manuscript left after completing Step Three. Today's step, the making of a scene summary, gave order and direction back to my revision process.

Scene summaries don't take a lot of work if you've already marked the start and end of every scene in your manuscript. I opened up a new document, formatted it like so:

Part I
Chapter 1
  • Scene 1:
Chapter 2
  • Scene 1:
Chapter 3
  • Scene 1:
Part II
Chapter 1
... etc.

Then I filled in the details, one scene per bullet point. Everything important that happened in each scene got listed. It would be a little spoilerific for me to use my own book here, so I'll borrow one of Miss Austen's to set the example:

Volume I
Chapter 1
  • Hartfield, inside, evening: Back information on Emma, Miss Taylor, Hartfield, etc. Miss Taylor just married and gone; sorrowful prospect. Intro Emma and Mr. W; character building; intro Mr. Knightley, change of mood; display of relationship between the three characters; notice of Emma's matchmaking propensities.
[Of course, in Jane Austen's time an author could get away with telling-not-showing of things like back information. But there is still a scene there.]

We'll talk about what to do with the scene summary, as well as that notebook full of plot holes, on Monday. Have a good weekend, everybody.

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