Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Finished Master Scene List
Last night I finished the Master Scene List. I have always wanted to make such a list, for this and other projects over the years, and it always ends up partially complete. Finally I have an actual Master Scene List that is complete and it feels great.
It is a Word document, a table, with several columns. They list the chapter number, the scene number within that chapter, an ongoing scene number (there are 60 scenes in total at the moment), then a brief description of the location of the scene, followed by a brief description of what takes place in the scene (the action), and finally the word count of the scene. This way I can see how the novel progresses from scene to scene, from location to location, how the action is distributed over various scenes, where a lot happens, where less happens, how long the scenes are relative to one another, etc. It's a great tool for getting an overview of the entire novel at once.
Already in writing it, I came across one major thing I set up and then forgot to get back to later. I had a major character offer to be available to help when things got difficult, and then never fully resolved whether that character shows up later to help the main character or not. I wrote him in at one point, then removed that entire scene and rewrote it without him, then had him visit briefly to offer support, then completely forgot about him when the big moments came about later. So, I've already caught one "plot hole" that needs fixing. I think that was the only major one--others I caught along the way in the ongoing editing.
There were a few other places where I realized a key point should have been brought out by the conclusion of certain scenes to give them more relevance or impact, and can do that in the editing. So, no major flaws. The extensive notes and outlines I did going into this project really helped me have a solid plan to work with, and I was able to keep the work on target even when I changed plot details significantly in later chapters. I knew the underlying framework that I needed to anchor those changes to, so I was able to go with the flow, take advantage of sudden inspirations, and still keep a coherent plot. I know there would be a lot more work to do now in figuring out what happened over the course of the story, had I not done all that planning work earlier. The extensive pre-planning (80,000 words worth!) is certainly saving me a lot of effort right now.
Today's work will center on simplifying the mythology and then looking back at each scene to determine what the goal/complication/resolution were. I'll create a new table summarizing the revised version of the mythology, and another table summarizing the goals, etc., for each scene. Hopefully I can do most of that easily from memory as I look over the Master Scene List, but I'll also check the manuscript as needed to remind me of how exactly I had things play out in the course of a scene if there were many issues or it got complicated.
I started the work on the appendices. I think rather than trying to finish them now I'll leave them as open and ongoing tasks throughout the remainder of the editing process, then tie them up at the end, since the information in them is prone to change. I've already done some work on two of them. I'll work on the third one tonight. I'll comment more on them tomorrow.
It feels good to be making progress in laying the foundation for the editing. Very soon this week I'll be done with Phase One (documenting "what is") and will be ready to start Phase Two (planning for changes I want to make). That'll be similar to the work I did at the very outset, when I planned the novel, did the first outlines. This will be the last major effort at re-examining that work and allowing myself to make any significant changes.