Books by Tom Reeve

The Gray Shift (v3) Outline Edits Are Back

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I got the edits for the v3 draft of my outline for The Gray Shift back last week and it’s definite improvement over the previous draft. The breakdown of the 41 chapters is:

  • 13 chapters ok as is! (31.7%)
  • 15 chapters need minor edits. (36.6%) These were things like adding/removing characters or moving the “cymbal crash” moment a line or two around.
  • 11 chapters need major changes. (26.8%) These are mainly in the chapters in between the pivotal moments in the middle.
  • 2 chapters need to be deleted (4.9%)

Overall this is way better than the previous draft. About 2/3rd of the outline is ok or close to it and the major story beats are good.

The chapters that need major changes are the chapters in between the Act 2 Problem and Midpoint, about half the chapters leading up to the Act 2 Disaster and the ending finale chapters. The interstitial Act 2 chapters need some re-thinking and I’ve got some good brainstormed ideas for them figured out in preparation for the video call with my editor. The “what” of the ending chapters is good, but the “when” and “how” of them need some tweaking that will change the order and compress things a bit.

The two chapters that need to be deleted are both from the villain POV and they are being deleted since they ruin the tension of the main character POV scenes. They resulted in amusing feedback like this:

I’m probably going to wind up deleting all but one of the villain POV chapters for the same reason. This will knock the overall chapter count down to around 37 or so, which will also make future drafts/edits quicker. The big reason I’m editing at the outline level is because in the long run it will save a lot of time. Writing a 500 page chapter outline takes about a half hour from scratch, while a 3,000 word chapter takes about 3 hours for me to write from scratch. I can make 6 iterations on a chapter at the outline level in the time it would take me to write one full draft of text. This lets me try out a lot of variations to get the story nailed down right before I started plowing through writing a full first draft.

I’ve got the prototypes/brainstorms for the fixes written out and the next step is to review the feedback and my ideas for fixing things with my editor via video call later this week. After that I’ll make the changes and re-submit them. Things are getting closer!

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