I’ve been working on the third draft revision of Song for a while now*, and it was wallowing a bit. My thematic revision pass had stalled, basically because I was doing a micro-edit about macro things, so a few weeks ago I decided to do a punch list read to see what was actually broken in the story.
punch list (n.): a document prepared near the end of a project listing work which must be completed to fulfill the contract.
“Punch list” is originally a term from construction, but I’m using it here as a marker for “things I need to fix before I can call the book done”.
One of the consistent problems I found with the thematic revision pass was that I had too many things to consider as I went through the text. I had 25 touchstones over 73 chapters; even with percentages and conditional format to turn things green when complete it was too overwhelming.
This punch list read used a much more tightly-focussed set of question that were much easier to keep in mind:
- is this a situation where an under-used character can be brought forward?
- why did the character say that?
- what does the character want?
These questions fit on the back of a business card I could keep in my wallet to review at will. I was also watching for pacing red flags, poor turns of phrase, and the kind of grammar nits that always jump up and stop me reading smoothly.
I just finished the read, and I’m pretty pleased with the state of the book. There are pacing issues (and there is a separate process I want to got through to address those specifically) but there are far fewer enormous plot holes than I had feared.
On to collating and addressing the comments.
[*] oh no, it’s been exactly a year… good job this isn’t all I’ve been doing!