History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

My Revision Wall

I’ve been working through revisions on a novel since the beginning of 2020, and I’m finally reaching the end of those. But I wanted to show off the tool that I’ve been using to help with those revisions–my Revision Wall. Some people use post-it notes to do something similar, but I needed a) more space to write, and b) something that would stick to our textured walls a little better.

My Revision Wall is the corner of our guest room/office, using a weird spot between the door and a weird little hallway nook (outside the guest room) to lay out my entire book, broken down my chapter (each sheet of paper) and scene (each column on the sheet). I had randomly wound up with some blue poster tack, so that was a great way to stick everything up without hurting the wall, and it means I can pull them all down when I’m done to start the next project.

To start my process, I looked at my original outline and compared it to the actual text, summarizing the major points of each scene in a column. As I worked through this, I also identified places where I needed to expand things, places to put in some new subplots, and notes on where various subplots and other things appeared. I color coded some of these (the highlighted bits you can see here and there). I also flagged chapters that were shorter than average, so I could consider adding some of the new subplots there to bulk them up a bit.

Then I could look at everything in a “big picture” sense and scribble notes on each sheet about the revisions I wanted to make. Like when a major character vanishes about 1/3 of the way into the book, or when a plot thread evaporates without being resolved. Both of those could then be scribbled onto the sheets for later chapters so I could keep that character around or wrap up that plot thread.

Then I took a photo of each of these sheets individually to refer to when I’m back at my computer. In that mode, I could see what I’d typed and what I’d handwritten, to give me a blueprint for how to revise the chapters.

The brief scene summaries are also a way to start writing a synopsis of the book, which I’ll talk about more later!

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