Suggestions for Macro-level Edits

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writermorris
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Suggestions for Macro-level Edits

Post by writermorris » July 16th, 2010, 2:31 pm

Hi guys,

I'm trying to look at the structure of my WIP... chapter breaks, scene length and purpose, flow. Anyone have suggestions or tools for how to do this? I feel like it is so large and I am so close that I can't see properly.

Thanks,
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cheekychook
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Re: Suggestions for Macro-level Edits

Post by cheekychook » July 16th, 2010, 2:40 pm

You can try printing out your MS and reading it from start to finish, red pen in hand----every time the scene changes, draw a line. By scene change I don't mean plot change, I mean setting changes (characters walk from kitchen into living room) or someone new enters the conversation (waitress comes over to the table). If you break the whole thing into scenes it might give you a sense of where the natural pauses occur and those could be good places to end/begin chapters. A lot depends on the style and flow of your story. Some authors like to wrap up each chapter with a bow so it's complete on it's own, others prefer to leave each chapter as a cliff hanger, and some like to end chapters mid-action so the reader is compelled to start the new chapter to see what happens next. Don't know if any of that helps!
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Holly
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Re: Suggestions for Macro-level Edits

Post by Holly » July 16th, 2010, 2:53 pm

writermorris wrote:Hi guys,

I'm trying to look at the structure of my WIP... chapter breaks, scene length and purpose, flow. Anyone have suggestions or tools for how to do this? I feel like it is so large and I am so close that I can't see properly.

Thanks,
An editor can help you, or a good reader.

If you don't want to go that route, write a one page synopsis, or a two page, or both. Strip the story down to its plot structure and themes. Here's a good post about the one page synopsis: http://nephele.livejournal.com/2009/06/05/

You can also make a chapter by chapter outline. Boil each chapter down to a sentence or two about the basic plot and themes.

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Re: Suggestions for Macro-level Edits

Post by polymath » July 16th, 2010, 3:09 pm

Gustav Freytag's Pyramid is a simple graphic representation of plot, an inverted V two-dimensional line shape. On the Cartesian graph plot, Freytag identifies several features. Story timeline based on a linear train of causation is the graph's horizontal axis. Tension is the vertical axis.

Plot points and line segments on the graph begin at the axes' origin point intersection left bottom, introductions, inciting crisis, rising action, tragic crisis, climax peak, falling action, resolving crisis, and ending point right bottom, denouement or resolution.

Three arcing functions span the pyramid's edges, an inciting moment crisis relevant to an insuperable dilemma is introduced in introductions and pursued during rising action.

A tragic crisis emerges during rising action as efforts to address a dilemma increase, opposition of forces in antagonism increase, outcome increases in doubt, and all salient information needed to address a dilemma is discovered. A climax occurs when at least one or ideally all four of the former occur simultaneously or in some sequential order up through resolution.

A resolving crisis is when change, transformation, decision, discovery, revelation, and/or reversal occurs as a consequence of falling action efforts and antagonisms to address a dilemma.

In simpler terms, a beginning depicts the contexts of an inciting crisis, a middle depicts the contexts of a tragic crisis, and an ending depicts the contexts of a resolving crisis.

Simpler yet, the first half or so of a narrative depicts reversal and discovery driving increasing efforts and antagonism forces in oppostiion to address a dilemma. A major reversal turning point occurs at climax. The second half or so of a narrative depicts reversal and discovery driving decreasing efforts and antagonism forces in opposition to address a dilemma. The two halves are bracketed between three major reversal turning points: Incitement beginning major reversal turning point, emotional equilibrium upset, climax major reversal turning point, ending resolution major reversal turning point, emotional equilbrium restored. Minor reversal turning point scenes throughout.

Freytag's Pyramid only depicts two axes of plot's shape. The third dimension is antagonism. Causation, the horizontal axis, has two identities, cause and effect. Tension, the vertical axis, identities are empathy and suspense. Antagonism, the perpendicular axis, two identities are purpose and complications. The resulting three-dimensional shape is an idealized tetrahedron teetering on an edge on the timeline axis. A more representational plot shape, though, would be a ziggurat-like stair-stepped tetrahedron.

Scenes comprise a stair step each, and in general are Mandelbrot set-like miniature images of the larger shape.
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CharleeVale
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Re: Suggestions for Macro-level Edits

Post by CharleeVale » July 17th, 2010, 12:50 am

We all have our ticks, but I found somewhere that 'even, just, there, that, well, so and very' were some of the most over-used words. I started editing for them, Oh my goodness! It helped so much!

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Re: Suggestions for Macro-level Edits

Post by jfw » July 26th, 2010, 9:01 pm

I've been using a nice piece of freeware called "yWriter" that breaks the text into scenes and chapters. You can also define characters, locations and objects, and link them to the scenes in which they are included, track plot threads, define POVs per scene, backup the text and export it to nicely formatted rtf files for printing. There are probably even more features but I love it for the scene management alone. I started my novel in MS-Word but halfway through loaded it into yWriter and I've been using the app's word processor for editing ever since. It's written by a software engineer who is also a published novelist so the features and look-and-feel are quite intuitive. You can download from here:
http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html

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Re: Suggestions for Macro-level Edits

Post by Sommer Leigh » July 27th, 2010, 1:59 pm

I'm a very visual thinker, so I use a trick I picked up in a writing class in college that I know a lot of people use in one form or another. I hit up the office supply store and buy a dozen different colored post it notes and post it flags. I sit and read my WIP from start to finish without editing, and then I start working.

On an empty wall in my living room I go by chapter/scene and when a story thread appears, is mentioned, or is progressed, I summarize it on a colored post it note dedicated to that thread. I assign a colored post it flag to each major character and tag each scene of post it note threads with which characters are involved. I do this all the way down the wall until each chapter is finished. (Chapters go across, scenes go down)

This allows me to visually see where story treads suddenly stop and pick up, where characters are forgotten and rematerialize, and if the main story arc is getting enough attention over all the subplots. This gives me a good reference for where to start editing. You can also see where too much happens in one chapter and not enough in the next in order to fix pacing.

Good luck!
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