After finishing my novel’s first draft in April, I set it aside for six months to
fester marinate before editing. Today being October 1, I’m ready to resurrect the beast and start filing off its scaly edges.
These notes I wrote to myself back in the halcyon days of becoming la belle noveliste, based largely on my adaptation of the screenwriting strategy laid out in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.
Now that I’ve arrived on ye olde editing shore, it’s time to unpack.
Questions to ask AFTER FIRST DRAFT is complete
Does the thesis-antithesis-synthesis hold?
Thesis (marriage=prison) > Antithesis (single=freedom) > Synthesis (married AND free)
What were the 6(+) tics established in the Setup? Were they fixed?
Save the Cat: does MC do something early to make us like her?
Is there a good B story? How does it parallel the A story?
Who states the theme in Setup? Does it come up for discussion in the B story? How does the hero fight against the theme in the beginning? How does she incorporate the wisdom of the theme into her Finale solution (synthesis)?
Is there boring exposition? Pope in the pool: how can you “bury” the exposition? Bury, don’t bore!
Does the catalyst change life permanently? Does it thrust the hero into action?
Debate section MUST ask a question. Hero must answer.
Is the hero strong? Decisive? Does the hero move the story from Act 1 into Act 2?
Do you reach the FPP (first plot point) by page 25 (screenplay) or at minimum page 50 (novel)?
Is there a false victory?
Is there a false defeat?
What time clocks appear at the Midpoint?
Does time speed up from Midpoint on?
Who or what dies at the “All is Lost” moment? Does the hero fall completely at this point? (She should.)
Do the A story and B story intersect? In a cool way?
Five point finale: are all five points here?
- Hero hatches plan to “storm the castle” and “rescue the princess”
- Castle wall breached. Hero enters bad guys’ fort. Things appear to go according to plan.
- Reach tower but “the princess” is not there. It’s a trap. Looks like bad guys win after all.
- New plan. Dig down deep for the last ounce of strength our hero didn’t know she had.
- Thinking on the fly, the hero discovers her best self, executes a new plan, and wins against all odds.
Is the final image a reverse of the opening image?
Does each character have a character arc?
- has a goal (or problem to solve)
- is thwarted somehow
- is at odds with others’ goals
- his bad thing becomes a plus
- his good thing becomes a negative
- wants what someone else has, is, or does
Are B characters upside down versions of A characters?
Is B story bizarro version of world in Act 1?
Is there too much magic, too much of anything that is too unbelievable?
If any of this helps in your editing process, sweet. I’d love to hear about it! I’d also be much obliged if you have ideas or editing strategies to share.