Revising the Outline

When do you start revising your novel? I start by revising the first draft of my novel’s plot outline, synopsis or treatment.

Revise Early and Late

As soon as I’ve written the first sketchy outlines of a novel, I’m revising. I’m looking for many things:

  • Does the climax resolve the setup?
  • Are the main characters together in a big scene at the climax?
  • Is there a good inciting incident? What opening scene would catch reader’s attention?
  • Are there places for the characters to grow and change?
  • Could I think of better settings, places that will resonate better with the story?
  • What conflicts run through the whole story?
  • Can I give my MC more problems to overcome?
  • Are there subplots that could support the main plot in interesting variations on a theme?
  • Does the middle sag? How could I structure the story to heighten the tension all the way through?
  • Does the ending have an interesting twist?
  • What character has the most at stake emotionally? Can I use THAT character as the viewpoint and/or main character?
  • Do I know the backstory , the events that took place before the opening scene? Can I plan to put that very late in the story?
  • What character interactions are possible within this story?
  • Can I write a timeline of each character and pinpoint scenes which help the character change?
  • Any great places in the plot for action sequences?

In short, I’m looking at all the elements that usually need revision after I write the first draft and doing a Novel Diagnosis. But on my WIP, I’ve tried to work smarter and do the critque even earlier in the process — right after I wrote the three page synopsis of the plot.