Craft

After the First Draft: Revising Scenes

Hey! We’re back, two months since last we talked about scenes. Since then, we’ve had Camp NaNoWriMo and lots of beautiful spring days, which means you’re probably super excited to completely revise the scenes in your book!!!

Okay, mini recap. And for those who memorized my last post – Can Your Scenes Be Seen? – please skip. But for the miniscule percentage of you…

All scenes have:

  1. A Setting – where the scene takes places
  2. Character(s) – one or more characters
  3. Action – character(s) doing something that propels the story forward
  4. Conflict – external or internal that changes the scene or the character(s)

The cool thing about revising scenes after you’ve written a book is that you’ve written the book, so you’re just revising scenes. WHAT? Axie, you make no sense!

Think of it this way – you now know what your book is even about. You now know what happens in it. You know the characters and their relationships to one another, the key events, the peaks and low points, where it needs to begin and where it needs to end.

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Let’s say your book is a deck of cards. Let’s channel Christine and say they’re tarot cards. Each card is a scene. You have 78 cards in your deck. That means you need to choose carefully those scenes that will best display the full deck of your story—its wonderful and exciting plot, its fun and quirky characters, its beautiful world and themes.

How then do we choose?

One thing you can do is:

LIST all your scenes. You need to know which scenes are absolutely necessary for your deck (remember, you only have 78 cards).

Add POINTS beneath the scenes in your list. What does each scene do in terms of:

  • Actions
  • Characterizations
  • World Building
  • Foreshadowing
  • More Cool Things

Ask yourself, what scenes can you cut? If there’s no forward momentum in the scene, do you need it? If it lacks those POINTS above but exists to be “a darling,” perhaps consider killing it.

Also, sometimes you realize in cutting scenes, there are scenes you need to add. What POINTS are your lacking? Do you need more scenes of characterization? Of foreshadowing?

Revision is a long and arduous journey, but there are directions, even GPS!! But like with GPS, there are a lot of ways to get to your destination. I’m amidst revisions as we speak, and my process has been to focus on each scene as I go, chapter by chapter. I outline those POINTS that I wish to hit in each scene and revise (by rewriting) to naturally incorporate them. For example, in the scene I’m working on right now, I have to introduce two characters, introduce a magical plot point, introduce a conflict and end with a cliffhanger to the chapter. Knowing I have to hit all four of these points, I revise the scene accordingly.

There’s no one-way to revise, but hopefully these directions can help provide a starting point!

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Good luck on you revisions! And if you have any tips to share, please let me know in the comments! Happy writing 🙂

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