Shrunken manuscript

This was fun!  I’ve read several times about the “Shrunken Manuscript” technique

recommends at her novel revision workshops. 

blogged about trying it on her latest manuscript at the NE SCBWI Conference, so I decided to give it a try with my contemporary MG to check some issues with minor characters and story arc.  I shrunk my 35,000-word, 120-page manuscript down to 29 pages of 8-point font so I could lay out the whole thing in my sun room.  Here’s what it looked like.

The pink post-it notes are major plot points.  The green are hints of my MC’s crush. The blue ones show where a minor friend character shows up.  The orange are funny bits with the little brother.  The yellow are opportunities for a new little thread I want to introduce.  I went through and marked all the things that already exist and learned a lot.  (I also found a gaping black hole with no pink post-its for almost four pages — yikes!).  Then I went through and added more color-coded post-its for things I want to add in my next revision pass. 

I loved this technique.  I’m a visual person, so seeing it all laid out like this helped me visualize the story arc in a much more tangible way and helped me see how I need to fix it.  (Plus, I have a fixation with Post-It notes anyway, and this was a good excuse to use large quantities of them. )