Friday, July 16, 2010

Revision Collision

Revision CollisionSP Heat Map 1

Today is Cut Day!

Okay, for the last two weeks, I’ve tediously analyzed my story with the primary intention of finding what can be cut. So over on the left side is my heat map of every scene in the book. Green is good, red is bad. The first column is “importance,” meaning how important is the scene to the story. The second is “tension,” which is how tense the conflict is in a scene. I have about 10 more measures of each scene which I didn’t bother to chart (yet) but maybe I should.

To give you a better idea, I have these numbers summed up by chapter (each chapter is a 8-10K section of the story):

Story Chart 1

That hump around chapter 4 is a little exaggerated, but you can see the hump at chapter 4 is the end of Act I, the second hump at chapter 9 is the crisis point of Act II, and of course Act III just goes off the chart at the end. Is this more or less right?

Also it appears that the tenser scenes are more important. Or the important scenes are more tense. Hmm….wonder if I’ve discovered something….

Here is the same chart, but by word. (Sorry if it screws up my blog formatting).

Story Chart 2

So you can see that overall I’m doing okay, but individual scenes vary. There is no reason to have a scene with an importance under 8, so you can see where I will start looking at cuts.

So my next step is to look at all those low points and decide what to delete. Out of 119 scenes, I am targeting ~20 for deletion. It may come to more, because it’s easier to delete the smaller scenes. But I need to remove about ~20K from the novel, and my scenes average ~1K each.

Here’s one last chart, the distribution of characters by scene. Red is the POV character of that scene:

character dist

I’m going to count all those up and see who’s getting shafted and who’s hogging the stage. Can you guess whose column is whose?

The last thing I’m doing is writing a first-person account by my main character reviewing the story from her perspective. It’s opening my eyes to what’s important to her, and will help me polish off my keep/cut decisions. Wish me luck!


  1. That is some serious analyzing my friend.

  2. Wow. You are scaring me, Andrew. I might hang myself if I have to get that intimate with my characters and story. You are one brave man, my friend!

    ~that rebel, Olivia

  3. A man of many talents. Never thought to analyze on such a thorough level...I mean, you have charts! Seriously wondering if I need to step up my editing game.

    Good luck.

  4. @Alex: Srsly :)

    @Olivia: Give it a try sometime. You'd be surprised what you find!

    @Raquel: I haven't even started editing yet...this is just the analysis! :)
    Editing starts after the cuts. First I patch the holes...then I fix all the small issues.

  5. Uhm . .

    Well; whatever works for you. Mine's just sitting on a shelf now because I read it so many times I hate it.

    At least you're still looking at your's.

    Good luck with your analysis and editing.


  6. @Donna: That's the CS guy in me...I need charts etc.

  7. @Tina: Wow indeed

    I wound up cutting 22 scenes, but since they were smallish on average, I still would up 6K over my target word count.
    That means I'll have to chop parts out of individual scenes...a harder process.


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