The Blog of John Hewitt

Creating a new roadmap for your novel

At this point, you are ready to perform a comprehensive reevaluation of your novel. Until now, the draft of your novel has been too rough for clear evaluation. Distractions such as grammar, spelling and chronology make it difficult to honestly evaluate your work. If you’ve been following the steps, you should have a relatively clean and readable copy of your first draft and plenty of notes. You should be able to read through the draft now with a more objective eye toward your long-term goals. You can face the more daunting questions such as:

  • Does the story make sense and is it believable?
  • What are the major themes, and do any of them need to be changed?
  • How is the overall tone of my novel and is it consistent?
  • What plot problems need to be solved?
  • Are there characters that need to be added, changed or eliminated?
  • Is the focus of the novel on the right characters and plot points?

This is the point at which you can begin to make the comprehensive changes that either get you closer to your original goals, or help you achieve new goals. Once you are clear about what your goals are, you need to create a plan for achieving those goals. As part of that plan you should be prepared to create a revised plot outline. Your new plot outline should be based on the chronology you created earlier. The new outline, however, will serve as a roadmap toward achieving your new goals. At minimum, it should include the following.

  • Planned new scenes
  • Planned revisions of old scenes
  • Scenes to be eliminated

It may also include other revision elements such as:

  • New or revised characters
  • Eliminated characters
  • Changes to settings
  • Changes to tone or themes
  • New plot points

Once you have a roadmap, you can start a comprehensive revision of your novel. In the next article I’ll cover writing new scenes and revising old scenes.