As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m fascinated by the visual representation of stories. Attending Darcy Patison’s Revision Retreat in 2009 introduced me to the idea of a shrunken manuscript — a condensed printing of an entire book that is then laid out so you might see the story from beginning to end.
The idea isn’t to read it in this state (which is single spaced and microscopic) but to get an overall sense of where the story stands. With the entire manuscript before you, you can determine what’s working and what needs work.
There are a limitless number of ways a shrunken manuscript can be used. Grab a few markers, create a key, and use it to determine:
- story strands
- changes in voice for stories told in multiple points of view
- instances of conflict
- the story’s movement through dialogue, thought, and action