Doesn’t this sound ominous, like some weird B movie? Actually, it’s a technique I learned over the weekend at my SCBWI Revision Retreat. Darcy Pattison, our fantastic instructor, fully explains all the ways a shruken manuscript can be used in her workbook, Novel Metamorphosis (see sidebar for more information).
Essentially, you single space the entire piece, shrink it down to 8 pt. font, and take out all white space between chapters. Manuscripts printed this way should run from 30-40 pages, depending on the length of your work. The point is not to be able to read it this way but to see the entire piece as a whole in a more managable form.
Once you’ve printed, you’re to spread the novel out on the floor in rows. Now, with lots of different colored markers, get on your knees and mark in various ways things such as sub-plots, strong chapters, weak chapters, conflict, climax. This list is unending. You can see the movement of your story as a whole, what’s working and what’s not.
I really benefited from this and have already printed a second shrunken manuscript to fiddle with, once I clean up the retreat piece.
What are some ways you revise?