Revising – One Week In – Ahead of Schedule!

Wow! I’m about 50 pages ahead of schedule! That’s a good thing because I actually have some real-life commitments coming up soon which might affect my writing time.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my first step is to reorganize the story to improve flow and add scenes that are missing. I use a software program called Plottr which allows me to create “scene cards” and place them along a timeline. The cards can be easily moved around to make sure the storyline fits the 3-Act structure of a good story. (Anyone remember that from high school English? I don’t!)

I “wasted” a good amount of time trying to decide whether to use the traditional 3-Act structure or move to a more detailed version called Save the Cat. I put “wasted” in quotes because even though I think I’m going to stick with the traditional format after spending hours reworking the timeline for Save the Cat, I did learn a lot about what makes a good story structure.

Some of you may know I am part of a fabulous and dedicated group of writers who meet online every weekday for two hours. I have made very good use of this time which is why I am ahead of myself so far.

At the risk of being too detailed (aka boring) here is what I do during each writing session:

Open the annotated PDF of the manuscript (the one with editing notes by my writing coach, Lynn Palermo). Open my Plottr timeline. Put both documents side-by-side so I can view them at the same time. Some people might prefer two monitors, but I’m perfectly happy with my 17-inch laptop. (Except that the weight of the screen causes the hinges to break! I’m on giant laptop #2 praying this one won’t fall apart before this project is done!)


The major issue I am addressing at this point is the reorganization of each chapter so it focuses on one character’s (or couple’s) point-of-view (POV). Lynn pointed out there are many people in this story and it can be confusing to keep them all straight, especially when several appear in the same chapter.

To keep the POV straight, I am color-coding the cards on the main plotline to reflect the characters’ POVs. I’m considering doing that for each scene in each chapter as well, but I’m leaving that for later.

On the Main Plotline, green cards indicate the POV of the elder Lichtenthals, Sigmund and Rosa. The purple indicates that of the younger Lichtenthals, Paul and Rose. All the scene cards in a column reflect the POV of the characters at the top. In this way, I am attempting to keep the story flowing between the various storylines without being too confusing.

Example of scene card with notes for revision

Another issue I have to address is that I’ve written a lot of “scenes,” that in Lynn’s words, “Look like scenes, sound like scenes, but aren’t scenes.” So, the next thing I do is review the chapter I’m working on and divide it into true scenes or sections that focus on the same topic. I copy and paste each small section onto a scene card that I’ve added to the Plottr timeline. I make sure to also copy and paste any comments made by Lynn into the relevant section using a different font color. I also change the font color of anything in the section that needs addressing.


I am also color-coding the cards for “status.” In the Plottr screenshot above, the gray cards indicate new scenes that need to be written. Orange denotes scenes that need to be rewritten, or at least reviewed again. (I’m marking most of the scenes orange!) Move is blue, and Delete is red. Scenes that I am happy with (Done??) are colored a dark green. Did you notice there’s ONLY ONE dark green ? I’ve written that scene SO MANY times I’m really done with it!

Most days I have been able to get two chapters reviewed, and put into Plottr. If I stay on track, I definitely will meet my goal to be ready for specific scene rewrites in February! I’m about one-third of the way through the revision document. I most definitely notice an improvement in my writing as I progress through the manuscript. Hopefully I’ll soon come to more scenes I can mark as dark green. (Done!)

Thanks for joining me. I hope sharing this journey will motivate other aspiring writers to keep going and finish their projects!

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