When Hubby is around while I’m writing, the poor guy gets subjected to some of my thinking out loud. Like today: “Is there a check mark symbol on Microsoft Word? I can’t find one. Oh, or I could use an X. Just need to check off which scenes I’ve revised on my outline.”
Two minutes later: “I need a code. X isn’t enough. I need to mark which scenes need the most fixing. If I use ABC like a priority list, then A would be the highest priority, which means a scene in the worst shape. But that would totally confuse me because the best scenes would get a C grade, which is average, not best.”
“Um, aren’t you wasting more time creating a code rather than just fixing the scenes?” he finally asked.
Ha ha. Yes. But . . .
If only revising were as simple as opening the document and fixing what needs to be fixed. Unfortunately, almost every sentence needs to be fixed on some level, and it’s definitely a matter of priorities. I need to fix the big stuff first before I waste time on little sentence issues. I’ve revised most of the scenes in chapters 1–4, and today I wanted to see a clear picture of what I’ve fixed, where each scene’s at, and what I should concentrate on the most.
And suddenly I realized the solution was obvious. I’m a teacher, aren’t I? What could make more sense than to give an A to the best scenes, B to those that need a little improvement, C to the mediocre ones, D to those in bad shape, and F to the segments I might as well cut and redo from scratch?
Ah, simplicity is wonderful.
(Yes, the outline itself looks complicated, because I have lots of info there, but the left-most column is simply ABCDF, with an X above once I’ve made significant revisions this draft.)
It took less than five minutes to go through my outline and assign grades based on my gut reactions (if only I could do that with student papers!), and now I can see at a glance where I’m at and what needs the most help.
Hooray for a great new strategy!