Rewriting: the Big Picture

How do you get the big picture when it’s time to rewrite–and restructure–your book? I’m a visual thinker, so for me, the trick is to find a way to represent my story visually. I’ve tried many different methods for tracking different parts of my story: stickers, highlighters, different colors of sticky notes, webbing, outlines, flow charts. Some are more fun than others (especially if, like me, you have an addiction to beautifully-colored pens and highlighters) but in the end, I find that simpler is usually better.

One problem I’m fixing in the rewrite of Juggling the Keystone: my characters need more problems. To help me track my progress, I needed a way to track story problems from one chapter to the next. The solution? A table in MS Word. Column 1 lists each chapter title. Column 2 lists problems introduced, continuing, or resolved in the chapter. For ex., here’s the (cryptic) problem list for Ch. 6 :
  • Money, etc. / KS / Guards / Paranoid king / Chirp wants out / wizard—mntns? / Stuffed animals / father / trapped / Khess captured / Khess hurt / Khess lied

Color coding helps me to see which problems are new or continuing (red), which are temporarily resolved (light green), and which are permanently solved (dark green).

It was fun to see the whole table, with more and more red blooming as the story progresses. Geeky, yes–but it helped!

:) Cheryl

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You’ve probably read the same tips I have: Have a smart phone? Check Facebook while standing in line at the post office! Respond to Twitter messages while waiting for your dentist! Catch up on your news feed while sitting on the pot! For years, I thought the path to increased productivity was to squeeze in MORE–more […]


  1. Yat-Yee says

    Good suggestions! I’m in the midst of re-writing as well. Twice now, I’ve thought I was close to sending it out “just one more proof read”, and a really good idea would come along and I’d have to re-think, re-balance, re-write. Hope your process is going well!

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