Revising the Novel: Character and Setting Maps
Isolating each scene and definitively deciding where it starts and ends is also giving me confidence that I can move certain scenes around with more ease than I initially thought. There’s some crucial information that needs to appear earlier in the novel, for example a
change on ROE (rules of engagement) orders that come down from Higher and directly effect the mission at hand. Now that I know which scenes contain that information, and where those scenes begin and end, I can more confidently attempt amputating and grafting, for lack of better terms. Notice I say “can,” meaning I haven’t done it yet. I intend to, but like all good forward momentum, I can’t interrupt myself and start tweaking things too soon. I’ve got to finish this reverse outlining before flying out to the AWP Conference next week (ack!). Somehow, I imagine that being able to hold each scene in my hand on a little slip of paper, makes me feel like I’ll be able to do some necessary and deep thinking about the novel amidst the travel and hum-buzz-overwhelm-excitement of these upcoming events.
The character map, a la Wonderbook‘s suggestions, is teaching me which characters I can cut and which ones are lacking in development. It’s reiterating the fact that too many character in my book haven’t been physically described at all. And it’s showing me that some characters relate to the same character in very, very different ways. That all seems obvious, but seeing it via a visual representation with some shorthand notes alongside will further give me something to ponder as I fly, drive, snowshoe, beach run, and gab-gab-gab my way through the next few weeks. Here are a few snapshots of how things are shaping up and, for what it’s worth, I’m going to make this much larger on butcher paper after I travel. For now, it all needs to be portable:
|Aaseya & Rahim have drastically different relationships with the Taliban; Rahim never new Aaseya’s siblings; Rahim hasn’t met the Orphan Boy yet; and the characters with slashes through their names are dead.|