Tess Hilmo: 2k11

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Debut Novel: Spreadsheets Used for Plotting and Revising a Novel

Introduced first in 2007, debut children’s authors have formed a cooperative effort to market their books. I featured Revision Stories from the Classes of 2k8 and 2k9 and this feature returns this year with the Class of 2k11.

Tess Hilmo, WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE, MG, Fall 2011

Color Code Your Novel’s Pacing

Guest Post by Tess Hilmo

My favorite revision process involves using highlighters to check the pacing of my novel.

Does your novel drag in places? Or, is it high paced and exciting for chapter after chapter without giving any reprieve to your exhausted readers?

Try this tool for analyzing:

Get a pink, yellow and blue highlighter. Then highlight the main plot points as follows:

  • BLUE for narrative and reflective areas
  • YELLOW for rising suspense
  • PINK for action and plot twists

Then stand back and see what you have written. A well paced novel has rising and falling tension – scenes with high suspense and action are tempered by scenes of investigation and reflection. Plot twists are spaced out.

If you have scene after scene coded blue, you may want to look at hiking up the tension somewhere in there. If you have scene after scene of yellow or pink, consider slicing in a little bit of reflection.

No highlighters? No problem! I have been known to use crayons from my daughter’s art box. I just run a blue, yellow or pink line down the side of the manuscript according to the pacing of the scene.

Do you think you’ll ever do this? It really helps me see my novel in a more objective light.

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