April 20, 2011

All-In-One Revision:
Raise Stakes, Build Conflict, Setting & Mood

I'm really excited about my latest revision system. I only go through and revise once, but I'm going through 3 phases to prepare for that, leaving myself notes on what to change and how.

Right now, I have one index card for each scene. At the top of each card is a sentence that summarizes the main conflict. I've used this system before, and it's great for focusing each scene on the conflict and for reorganizing the structure of the novel. But I've added something new this time.

On each card, I have:
  1. The scene number (so I don't get confused)
  2. The one-sentence summary for the scene
  3. The time of day
  4. What my main character wants
  5. What's keeping her from getting it
  6. How she feels
  7. Why she feels that way
  8. The overall mood of the scene (if different from how MC feels)
  9. How the setting intensifies/contrasts the mood
  10. How I can possibly raise the stakes

While I write out these cards, I'm creating meaninful scenery. The setting interacts with my characters and really comes alive. I've always heard that the setting needs to be a character, that it needs to create conflict. I never really understood that until now.

This method also helps me to create an primary mood for each scene and helps me to intensify the feelings of my characters. I think it'll lead to some pretty awesome subtext, too.

And who doesn't love high stakes? I mean, I thought I had some awesome conflict, but now... every card has some brainstorming on the back for how I can make it better.

Doing all of this takes time and brain power. I'm often tempted to skip one or two of these, but when I give thoughtful answers to each one, it's so rewarding. I'm getting really excited about this revision!

1 comment:

Roberta Walker said...

Thank for the tips! This a great. I'm finishing a draft and will be revising soon so will keep this page bookmarked!

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