Writing Wednesday: Charting Revisions

For something a little different this week, I thought I’d give a peek at a tool I used in my revisions of my Phantom novel–which turned out to be a trilogy.  Essentially, I went through every scene, and created an Excel chart tracking scenes, their purpose, and the appearance of certain characters who I was concerned were inconsistently present.  The result?

You can see from the red cells that Christine does not arrive on the scene immediately, which was as I planned.  But I also swiftly realized that there were long gaps where characters like the Persian (brown) and Jammes (green) went missing, something I worked on correcting in revisions.  I also realized that some scenes repeated the same theme or emotional arc too closely, or that others were unnecessary in the plot, their minor purpose easily folded into another scene.

By the time I got to the end, I’d charted 250 scenes, and realized from the way the colors clustered that I had a trilogy.  There was a clear progression with a different villain dominating in each third.  Which I might never have realized if I hadn’t laid things out this way!

It’s not a tool for every revision problem…but I did find it useful for several of mine. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday: Charting Revisions

  1. I have something similar for sorting out scene position in my book. Trouble is, I still didn’t do it well enough to get past my editor. But still… repeat and reduce….
    I use spreadsheets extensively… timelines, character details, world details….
    Your colour coding is a great idea.

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