I don’t like not working on my novel; I want to get it done. And since I seemed to be meeting a block when it came to continuing my heavy edits, I decided to address this scary stack of notes that has been piling up–little quarter sheets of A4 paper that I use to jot down notes on changes I need to make or errors I need to fix (see the heading “Scribble & Clip It“). Yes, you fix the big things first, but then that’s likely to leave a lot of little things that get overlooked.
Being at the halfway point, I can at least go back and write in those small changes now so I won’t have to worry about them later. I’ve made over 80 notes of chapter- or scene-specific things to be fixed in the first half of the story, and a couple dozen more notes on general continuity issues–“change generic references made to ‘the war’ to ‘the Pirate War’ where it makes sense“; “change references on ‘Cecily’ to ‘Secily'”; “double check usage of ‘lead’ vs. ‘led'”…those kinds of things. (It’s amazing what manages to slip between the cracks unnoticed.)
It Gets Complicated…
It goes without saying: the more details you include in a story, the more there is to manage–and I’ve got a ton of info to manage: facts, names of people (lots of those) and places, history…all that good stuff. All of it invented, of course. One thing that helps, as a fantasy/spec fic writer, is to keep notes on all of my worldbuilding and character details, though for the most part I’m able to remember most of what I’ve created (’cause it’s my creation!). It’s when changes have been made that I need another tool to help me sniff out what instances in the manuscript are going to be affected by said changes.
That’s when having complete files on previous drafts and the current draft comes in handy because they can be used as references themselves.
I’ve mentioned on my blog before that I use yWriter to keep track of what’s going on in my story as far as characters and plot go. You can add photos and track the days gone by in each scene, as well, in addition to some other useful features. It also lets you save an HTML version of your manuscript–which I’ve found to be immensely useful. I do keep individual Word files of each scene I write, too, and give them their own names (I don’t like to work from one huge file and prefer working initially in Word), but by also having the entire current manuscript (as it stands) kept in yWriter, which can easily be updated by way of copy/pasting from Word to yWriter, I can later search for (“Find”) specific words, phrases and references that I wish to change–which then helps me pinpoint which chapter & scene it’s in if I can’t remember. In a way, it would be easier to just work entirely in yWriter, but like I said: I prefer to work mostly in Word. For various reasons.
So yeah, that’s what I’m doing now is addressing my plethora of post-heavy edit notes; they’re kinda like afterthoughts. It’s (painstaking) progress…just not progress I can show on the progress bar.
…Say, I was gonna talk about the novel I just finished reading, but maybe I’ll save that for the next time I blog!
How do you folks keep track of changes made to your stories and keep it all coherent?
Specifically novels, and during the editing stage. Sometimes what you think is on the page and what is actually on the page are two different things…