Okay, I know the title has already gotten you going “wha??? Forms?” Yes, forms. Why, because it’s a great way to trick your left brain. You’re looking down the barrel of your next revision and you’d rather pull out your toe nails, right? Instead, tell yourself this, “it’s just a silly one page form, how hard is that going to be? And besides, it’s not writing.” And that is the trick. It is not “writing” per se, but I designed this form so you can do a couple of things:
- Focus on each individual scene in your novel
- Have one place to make notes and new ideas instead of scribbling it a bulky printed manuscript
- Help design your plot and keep track of sub plots at the same time
I call this thing the Master Plot Profile, and you can just think of it as an index card on steroids. Another reason why I created it is because my background is in producing television shows. Producing is a fancy way of just keeping track of a bucket load of details. Creating scenes on paper is one thing, but when you actually want to shoot it on film or video, that takes time and money. Since you don’t want to waste time, you need to answer all sorts of questions, like where are we shooting today, who needs to be here, what props do we need. In the “biz” both for television and films, producer create what’s called a “call sheet” for each day of shooting. Because I think it would help you guys to begin to think like you are the movie producer/director for the movie that will run in your reader’s mind, I figured why not make a “call sheet” for each scene in your book.
But I didn’t stop there. As a director, you need to learn how to work with your actors. In this case, the characters in your novel. I’ve included some key questions to pin point your point of view character’s motivation in the scene? What does she really want to get out of this scene? What conflict gets in her way.
The idea is you fill out a form for ever scene in your book. Sounds like a lot of work, but if you are dealing with an overwhelming first draft, it’s a great tool to get organized. It’s also a litmus test. If you check your scene and find that there is nothing in it that meets the criteria, then maybe you need to re-think the scene or incorporate it into a different scene.
The other benefit is instead of flipping through a monster 400 pages of stuff, you now have maybe 60 – 75 pages that are much easier to flip through. Make a change in scene 35 that has to be reflected in scene 17? No problem, flip some pages and scribble in your notes. Yes, you need to do this by hand, but I know often times ideas pop in my head and I’m always scrambling to get it down quickly. Computers take time to warm up and this way you can scribble, re-write, revise all in one place.
And let’s face it, we don’t always have time to work on our novel. Life gets in the way and let’s say it’s been a week since you had the chance to work on it. Where did you leave off? What was the last scene I was working on? Use a post it note to mark where you left off and now you can jump right back in.
I will be premiering this worksheet and another one to help you with revisions at WANACon, the oh so fabulous on-line writers conference. (Newsflash: you can sign up for Day 1 or Day 2 separately!) My session will be held Saturday, October 5th at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time
Once the class is over (and once I figure out the tech part of it) I’ll post the forms here for you guys to download and play with. In the meantime, here’s a photo.
Do you think something like this would help you? If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here, or send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Rachel, this is so fantastic. I do something like this – WAAAAY less organized than this, but similar, because, you know. The Littles. They have a way of foiling my best-laid plans to work hours on end. 🙂 🙂
You’re the best, babe.
Hi there Minnie Sue, so glad to hear from you. Yes, I am a bit of a control freak and thus tend to go a little overboard, but this one really helped me a lot. Traditional outlines never worked, and index cards didn’t have enough space. Take care cutie.
Sign me up, Rachel. This adds even more structure to Mark Travis’ Story Structure Chart.
Hi Elsha, I’d be happy to share this with the PEN Women if you think they’d like it. Thanks for stopping by!
Marvelous idea! Thanks for sharing, Rachel!
This is amazing! Really! Thank you so much for sharing this. When I think of all the times I’ve gone through my manuscript by hand with a red pen…
Hi Serena, I hear you, and one red pen was never enough to keep track of clues and subplots. Thanks so much gor stopping by.
Sounds like fun, Rachel! I’m reminded of those “Get to know your partner/spouse” books. 🙂 I hope your class goes wonderfully, and have no doubt that it will.
If these are the same forms I saw in your beta class, I know everyone will benefit from them 🙂
And when you run your class in spring, if you want to guest post at my place to spread the word, just let me know. You have an open invitation!
Hi Marcy, I took the form from the beta class and split it into two, one for revising the plot, the other for revising the prose. Thanks so much for your invitation, I will certainly take you up on it.