So I find it SUPER helpful when I’m revising a novel to reoutline it, and make sure everything got developed. It’s a great way to see where your story may have dropped plot threads and where the tension may lag. If you take 10k words to go from plot point A to B, chances are, you’re going to have trimming to do.

There are as many outlining methods as there are writers. Some swear by snowflake, but I find it doesn’t hit the right points for me. Instead, I use a kind of hybrid-A three act (sometimes four act) structure with key plot points. Victoria Schwab called these kind of points beads, that she then strings together.

First: list out all the major events. I find it helpful to start at the ending and say, “What caused This?” and work backwards. This keeps minor events that aren’t important out of the list.  Once I have this list, then I look at where they are in relation to the word count (up to where that event starts). This is where the beat sheet comes in handy. I divide the major events into each section of the beat sheet (I modified the ones from Jami Gold’s site and put them into each section, based on their role in the story. Then I can see, based on what the target word count should be, where I need to do cutting/adding to make the pacing flow the way I want.

*NOTE: This assumes your plot itself makes sense and is logically complete from beginning to end. If your plot itself is broken, you need to sort that out FIRST*

This can also be useful for developing your story in the first place.

Some things to keep in mind:

*Your subplot should effect the primary plot. If they’re falling in love, for example, their love interest needs to be involved in the ending in some way. If they can walk away from their love interest and that solves the plot, then your plot isn’t developed enough.

*It doesn’t need to be super precise with the word count. I’m shooting for ballparks. If I say something should happen around 10%, I’m fine if it lands at 12% or 8%. But if it’s not til 20%, I’m probably going to be grumpy, and have a lot of cutting to do.

*This outline can also be used to develop the synopsis, which makes your life MUCH easier! If an element isn’t important enough to include in that synopsis/outline, then it probably needs cut. It’s also useful to make sure your synopsis isn’t dumping too much backstory. If you hold up the novel and the synopsis side by side, you should be able to follow the progression of events in the same way, mostly.

Have you tried this method of editing before? Any tips/tricks, feel free to share them in the comments! I’m always evolving my process (As you should be as well!). You never know when you’ll find that one piece that just makes everything else gel for you!

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