Tag Archives: revision techniques

Storybuilder Inc. — Step 12: Revision 501

Welcome back to Storybuilder Inc.

For those just joining, I am both a writer and an editor and have compiled this series both by utilizing various principles of storytelling craft learned from other writers and professionals in the industry, and from techniques I use in my own practice. I do my best to make it accessible and adaptable for other writing styles, i.e. intuitive vs. planning.

I cover everything from the initial premise to the final, polished draft. Last time, I covered 5 advanced principles to help as you use your revision outline from step 11 to adjust your manuscript so it matches the kernel of your story. This week I will talk about 5 final, very advanced principles of pre-polishing revision.

For a complete guide of all Storybuilder steps, including a list of posts to come, CLICK HERE.


Tip 1: Discover characters’ fourth dimensions and world-building under-story

Are your primary characters three-dimensional? Time to make them four-dimensional. Are you secondary characters two-dimensional? Now it’s time to get to know them as well as you knew your primary characters before you started telling your story. Tertiary characters, those ones who make a quick appearance, will also get a promotion—at least, some of them. Pick those tertiary characters who stood out more than expected in the manuscript and make them more that one-dimensional. The ones who stay one-dimensional, those extras in the crowd, can now be called quaternary characters for the distinction. Go on, rewrite all your profiles and label accordingly.

What about settings? You drew them out, made some notes. But your story went on and maybe you forgot to write down the details. Now it’s time to organize and get them down. And all those details with your world need organizing too. If you write speculative fiction, then you might need to make profiles for nations, cultures, peoples, religions, languages, or groups. You might need a chronology to deal with the history behind the world as it’s come together. Do that too. Develop a system and keep it organized.

Do you see the point I’m getting at and how it relates to the idea behind this tip? So far, we’ve just been looking at the story in each sub-frame and how to make revisions without losing perspective. Now the goal is to comb over your sub-frames, look at the world-building behind them, and see how you can coherently organize your notes to make sure everything’s consistent.

Contradictions in story occur because we lose perspective of what is actually going on. After all, writing a story involves lots of juggling. At the same time, getting carried away with profiling to make sure you understand all the inner workings can pull you away from the germ of the story, leading to a manuscript that reads as an attempt to Frankenstein a bunch of disjoint creative blocks.

In Step 4 I mentioned basic techniques to keep your world-building together and in control. (In fact, I will be following Storybuilder Inc. with a companion series on this process.) Now, after the writing is done, it is most appropriate to take the time and build to your heart’s content. It will give you more perspective, which is exactly what you want.

Focus, in particular, on character, since character motives are the essence of story and the conflict that defines it. Go deeper than just knowing all the levels of your primary characters—wear their skin, see into their soul. If they’re burned, feel that burn, if they weep, you should be weeping too, if they are depressed, get ready to see the doctor for some antidepressants. Wear black if they like black, or spend hours in a garden or conservatory if your heroine is a gardener in a land of eternal spring. Think of yourself like a movie actress (or actor) getting into character, and go so far as to talk like your primary characters, walk like them, even think like them while you’re trying to discover this fourth dimension of their character. The story you tell is their story and the only way it will be believable is if you believe it—and that means you must live it. That’s a four-dimensional character, and even if it drives you a bit crazy, well…there’s a price to pay for prose that truly are alive.

There’s also the lesser players who knit together the subplots. Contradictions and plot holes abound when secondary characters are little more than two-dimensional jigsaw pieces. You know a bit of their back-story, their motives and goals, but not much more. Make them more than a wind-up toy that spins and somersaults. Now, you don’t want them to be three-dimensional in the story, because otherwise your narrative will be over-saturated with meaningless info-dumps, but those characters do need to become three-dimensional to you, their creator, and he perfect time for this is the point where the story is told and you want to get to the bottom of why everyone is doing the things they’re doing. Look this little bit deeper, and see if the story your wrote is in line with it. If not, make a slight adjustment to make it true.

Last, those tertiary guys and gals. Every piece of your story must be meaningful. And so everyone who occupies more than a few sentences should be as well. Convince yourself that their presence passes this test, and, to do so, make them two-dimensional on paper so that, when they speak, walk, or are observed by your protagonists from a distance, you’ll understand their significance.

An example:

A bearded man walking across the town square now is an unemployed lumberjack whose wife wants him to find work as a blacksmith, and he’s storming across the town square because he hates the thought of it. His lip is curled, his shoulders are hunched, and he’s cursing the Goddess of Thunder. And this is perfect, since he does this during the chapter with emphasis on misdirection and free choice. Furthermore, the otherwise sunny day I picked now will change to foggy and overcast, making the primary character uncomfortable and on edge. See how a bit of knowledge of a tertiary character’s second dimension can enhance a scene, change the tone and mood, and send a ripple across the manuscript? Do this with every tertiary character you can think of, using the slightest brush stroke, and watch your story come to life. (And I’ll assume you all are familiar with writing’s number one rule: show, don’t tell!)

You’ll find that probing characters deeper will open up setting and world details too. If you are writing a story set in the real world, then you might profile relevant groups based on your research if, for example, you find out your character was a former spy for an organization called the Black Bells. Let all the layers build and add up, and tweak your story accordingly (or make notes where you’re not sure so you can address it all during the polishing to ensue).

Tip 2: Clear all your lists

Revision, like drafting, is organic. That means, although I’m detailing various tips to reflect five different levels of complexity, in truth the order you tackle things will be as unpredictable as the creative process itself. Outlining—true outlining—after all, is not about laying down all the boundaries and limiting your creative freedom. It’s the exact opposite, in fact. It’s about become freer because of the confidence you have in a directive process that will yield a story fleshed out to its fullest.

Either way, before you move on to polishing—the step where you will take all the notes and revision strategies and produce something ready for an editor’s eye—make sure you deal with everything on your list. Cold read notes, alpha reader notes, or another list that grew when you started the revision process. Don’t jump the gun, no matter how tempting that is, because otherwise you’re going to run in circles and end up with a story you knew could have been better, if only you’d waited. If your publisher or agent is pestering you, then ask for more time. If there’s a deadline, then throw everything distracting aside, lock yourself in a room, and ask your friends and family for forgiveness. Do what it takes, but whatever you do, don’t cut corners; leave no stone unturned and you will have the best polishing experience possible, and, most importantly, happy readers when your book is in print.

Tip 3: Good bookkeeping

Your manuscript is going to look like a dog’s breakfast. It will consist of the neat, well-thought-out words you put together during drafting, and the looser, boxed-in notes, offset with various anchors you’ve dropped in during revision. Once you get through all your revision check-lists and have treated every sub-frame and given it the considerations of the various levels of Tip 1, go over your manuscript and read these notes. See if you can clean them up a bit, or put them together. (In the process, you may generate a creative spark or two—it’s fine to fix up your manuscript during revision, just as long as you avoid getting pulled into linear revision.)

If you’re a multiple drafter and more of an intuitive writer (i.e. a “seat-of-your-pantser”), then this corresponds to exactly what you do, but with notes inserted as you run over your drafts, rather than just changing the manuscript each time until it happens to work out.

(Quick fact: intuitive writers often write many drafts, up to twenty, as a process of discovering their story. These stories often abound in surprises and twists that outline-based drafts lack. However, I will again emphasize that the Storybuilder model is neither of the two. There is no “formula” for writing a great story. However, there are steps you can follow to help as you creatively discover how to create your own unique cosmos. Revision, whether you are an outline writer or an intuitive writer, is as much an opportunity to introduce twists, surprises, and new layers to your story as in drafting.)

Tip 4: Embrace unpredictability

Since your story’s true existence is abstract and your true work involves careful thought that far exceeds the time you spend crafting its prose, this means the storytelling process itself can be very unpredictable. As much as you might want to control it, the truth is it will take you for as many twists and turns as the story itself (perhaps more).

The goal of the revision model I’m presenting is to allow you to embrace this process. Rather than forcing on story layers and changes without a sense of their effectiveness, you have an opportunity to write in an intermediate medium. In much the same way computer programmers write in pseudo-code to break down a problem before investing too much energy in implementing thousands of lines of code, so too a writer can learn to write in “pseudo-story”, looser sketches of the story in question without investment in a particular course of prose. Just as a problem-solver uses these looser forms of notation to assist as a focus for thought, so too a writer can feel his or her way to the essence of their story before taking out the brush and sweeping every grain of dirt from its stones.

Tip 5: Kill your darlings, but believe in resurrection

It might seem intuitive to keep the strongest passages of your story and clear away the weaker ones. This, in general is true. But sometimes it’s wise to go to the parts you feel the strongest about and decide they need to be better.

You’ve heard the expression, “Kill your darlings.” Why do we do this? Not because fiction, as a rule, shouldn’t contain anything profound. It’s something deeper:

If you wrote something worth keeping, then it’s not the words, but what the words do, that is worth keeping. So, go to a part you love. Think about it, reflect, then make the decision to tear or apart. Tear it apart and make it better. What will come back will be something different (though it sometimes will be similar). In its resurrected form, it will be there because you connected with what is happening in your story. You connect with why, and the process of writing itself, and in so doing detach from enamor over having written.

I’ve used the image of layers of an onion, or a snake shedding its skin. Also, metamorphosis. Layer upon layer, your goal is to strip your prose down until the diamond and gold and nameless precious gems of your story are naked and gleaming for your reader to see. You’ll break them free during revision, then make them smooth, shiny, and well-wrought during the final polish.

It ends with polishing

Some of you have heard the word “polishing”. Perhaps it was from an agent or an editor who said, “It must be polished before you submit it.” The word itself makes me think of continuous rubbing and smoothing off all rough edges. It’s easy to think this means you just have to write a story then keep going over it again and again. Hence, linear revision, which is, for most, a trap.

I’ve tried to break revision and polishing into separate pieces, and hope this helps you highlight strategies to make the overall process productive. “Keep going over your manuscript until it’s perfect” is not specific at all, and is very unhelpful. Good goals are concrete and specific (like good stories).

Next week, I will detail more techniques, ones that will give you detailed, measurable steps to make sure that “continuous rubbing” leads to a finished story.


Graeme Brown has been writing epic fantasy since he was a child and continues to develop his stories every day. He is the author of The Pact and is an editor for Champagne Books.

Follow his blog for updates:




Filed under Graeme's World, Storybuilder Inc. Outlining and Storytelling Process

Storybuilder Inc. — Step 12: Revision 401

Welcome back to Storybuilder Inc., and Happy 2014!

I have compiled this series based on my writing method to inspire others who wish to develop their own storytelling strategies. I cover everything from the initial premise to the final, polished draft. Last week I covered 5 intermediate principles to help as you use your revision outline from step 11 to adjust your manuscript so it matches the kernel of your story. This week I will talk about 5 advanced principles that build on the 5 from last week.

For a complete guide of all Storybuilder steps, including a list of posts to come, CLICK HERE.


Tip 1: Balance the senses, do your research, and build in all perspectives

The idea behind this tip is that of making adjustments without lose perspective. First, in Revision 201, I talked about going over to get each sub-frame in sync, to appreciate the story that is actually happening despite the prose you laid there. The goal was more to make notes, to summarize your scene, or to fill in any background information you now appreciate by looking at the segment of story, with the perspective you have on how the story turned out. In Revison 301, the intermediate version, I considered a more focused way to appreciate the scene by looking at inner and outer turning points, and emotional contrasts. These are important core threads in storytelling, and I demonstrated how a story’s inner engine chugs along by the movement of these pistons.

In this step we move past these elements and map out the finer details of your scene. Now it is time to fill in the rest of your sub-frame outlines. Map out the senses to see if you have an imbalance (many stories are vision heavy, which means being mindful of sound, smell, touch, and taste, can give you some extra spices that enhance emotion, mood, and vividness of a scene). Play devil’s advocate for all the details your mention so you can do extra research. Is there a sword fight? A broadsword in a light-weight woman’s hand? You might want to research broadswords and their place in battle (which would make you rethink what weapon to give your heroine). Finally, put your sub-frames in perspective.

I need to say a little more on this final point, since it’s a bit loaded. I mentioned, in Step 11 that you will want to include a section on each sub-frame for where you can summarize how the sub-frame contributes to the development of the frame. For example, if you are working a frame where your character goes back to her childhood home, a place now full of cobwebs and broken windows, then your goal might be to contrast her state of inner turmoil with her physical world (previously, we met her as a high-power business woman who couldn’t be taken down – until she receives a phone call from her ex-husband stating that her mother, who has been wasting away in a long-term care facility, has passed away). One sub-frame might be where she picks up a shattered picture frame, the picture gone, but the frame familiar because she remembers it as the one that hung on the wall, sporting a picture of her mother and father, actually looking happy. In the “contribution to frame XYZ” section you might write, “Stirs up Athena’s (protagonist) source of pain, the thing she tries to forget.” After all, the purpose of this scene is to show that contrast, to bring her toward the mission to unearth how her grandfather died and to confront the secret she’s kept since she left home to “get a real life”.

One important thing to note, of course, is that the reflections you write are not a summary of your sub-frame. They are an assessment of the true story going on, and your job, when you appreciate how a given sub-frame contributes to a frame, is to dig deeper and get more in touch with that story behind the facade of a draft that is, at best, a very educated guess.

This type of perspective-taking is important on higher levels than just the sub-frame to frame level. Not only do we have Athena’s old home visitation frame, we might have, say three frames that are part of the Start of Main Action section. Thus, we will do up a new card for each frame, and on each card we will have a “contribution to Start of Main Action” (replace “Start of Main Action” with the respective part of the nine part outline each collection of frames belongs to). What I usually do is list a bullet summary on each frame of the sub-frames, then look for the common thread. On the back of the frame card, I will divide it in half, with one side for themes, the other side for subplots or background information. For example, with Athena coming home, perhaps the frame before was a phone call with her ex about a problem with inheritance wherein he notifies her that she has to go home (she’s at her apartment with her current date, a hot middle-aged woman from the office), and the frame after is a visit to the institution where her mother died (she hasn’t been to her home town in seven years). This is all the Start of Main Action, and putting it together, the purpose of this section is to move Athena toward the ultimate goal of the novel: to make her confront her past hurt and become a better person for it. On each frame card, then, we would write how the frame contributes to the section, i.e. we would write that the home visit frame’s contribution is it brings Athena face-to-face with her troubles and shows the reader some of the trouble beneath her facade before she goes to the long-term care home where her neglected mother wasted away.

Doing this gives you meaningful perspective and a hierarchical organization to your story that reflects the structure you built from your outline, before drafting. The goal of this process is to help you appreciate themes and higher levels of story, which will, in turn, inspire you to drop anchors all over your manuscript for later development during the polishing phase to come.

You will create a card for each of the 9 parts of your outline, summarizing, in bullet form, each frame that makes it up, and including a note for how that part of the 9-part outline contributes to its parent section of the 3-part outline. For example, the Start of Main Action is art of the Beginning of your novel. For example, in the Athena story, on the card you create for the Start of Main Action, you will summarize each of the three frames, and likewise on the card you create for the Beginning, you will summarize the 3 parts, Opening Sequence, Turning Point 1, and Start of Main Action. For each of the three cards, you will have a section for how they contribute to the Beginning, i.e. for Start of Main Action, “sets Athena’s in motion to confront the source of her hurt.” Turning Point One might be the call from her ex, and the news that her mother is dead, while the Opening Sequence might introduce us to Athena during a satisfying, long-awaited “you’re fired” meeting.

It goes all the way to the card you will make for your story. On that card, you will have a summary of the beginning, middle, and end, and on it you will state the premise. Your goal will be to make that premise true, and, if you did your outlining well, it should be quite close to the premise you set out with in Step One.

Tip 2: Tackle those harder alpha and cold reads notes

The idea behind this tip is to use external feedback. In the last step, the intermediate form, I mentioned implementing alpha reader and cold read notes. However, you might find these notes difficult to tackle. Some points might be harder to define, such as, “Margaret is always sulking and is not likable. Fix.”

Well, fixing Margaret isn’t a simple job. You might need to brainstorm several places to go and fix her. Meanwhile, the principle of revision is to keep perspective of your novel and move over it quickly. Deciding how to fix Margaret will become a sub-task that will eat up days, possibly, derailing the momentum you might have built up while going through and addressing your revision checklists.

Instead, shift those harder notes until later. Skip them, and check-mark the simpler ones that allow you to address a spot directly where you can leave an anchor in your document that you will come back to during the polishing step. Then, once you have moved over and developed your sub-frames and gained perspective for your story, both fine and gross, you can come back and jump at these harder tasks. “Fixing Margaret” can be defined as brainstorming how Margaret presents herself, and possibly a “find”-hop around your manuscript for the name “Margaret”, to see where you can do some revisions.

Tip 3: The power of anchors

The principle at work with this tip, in its 101 and 202 versions, is to prevent circular revision. One of the main causes of circular revision is the “fix it now” syndrome that torments many writers. You spot a problem, get an idea, then go into your story and change it. You go through, front to back, change, fix (or so you think), then go through again, only to find that many of the things you fixed created other problems.

It will be especially true as you move to these higher levels of revision that changing your manuscript to respond to the whims that occur will be potentially problematic. Hence the need of anchors.

It never hurts to talk about anchors, so I’ll repeat:

An anchor is a cute term I use to describe any symbol that won’t accidentally crop up in your manuscript so that you can get to a spot of interest right away. For example, in my manuscripts, I like to use [*] as an anchor for places where I’ve left myself revision notes to be addressed during polishing. I use some standard anchors, like [*introspec] for passages of introspection, [*XYintrigue] for where character XY’s intrigue is revealed or at play behind some of the mysterious actions. You can invent your own, but whatever you do, make sure you keep a list of all your anchors so you can “find” them and look at the passages of interest, or address the notes you’ve left for yourself.

Some people use the revision features of their word processor, however I’m not a fan of this because the text in your revision notes does not stand apart from the text in your manuscript during a search. For example, if I want to get to a specific comment or type of comment, I can type in one thing and go straight to it because of the anchor. Likewise, I can group together various comments using common anchors, and thus address related issues together for better continuity, rather than going through every comment and skipping the irrelevant ones (which still takes time to read and determine if they are irrelevant to your task; let’s not mention the temptation to take a detour and fix a different issue).

Tip 4: 90 percent thought

The office for a writer is a mental space, not a physical. All the scribbling you do on the page is just ten percent of the true work that happens. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you spend much of your time plotting and thinking about your story while away from the medium that allows you to capture it in still form.

Thus, embrace it. That was the spirit of this tip at level 101 and 202. The reason we leave anchors and spend time looking at abstract structure beneath our story is to move to higher levels of thought. This is where we think deeper about the story’s elements that we are now familiar with, to make sure we’ve got it right.

Like a cow with six stomachs, you’ll go chewing, swallowing, chewing, swallowing, and so on, until your story isn’t just a crude ball of cud. This takes time, thought, and care. If you’ve utilized this skill during the drafting phase and have written your words with care, then you’ll find this process of careful thinking will guide you beautifully through revision.

Tip 5: A snake shedding its skin

I mentioned rumination, but there is another image that better describes revision: a snake shedding old layers of skin. Your story is growing as you pass through successive stages of development, and if you avoid circular revision and even everything out with the right amount of thought, you will be able to appreciate how your manuscript itself evolves. As you address your revision concerns, you will be loading your manuscript with anchors and notes, and you will also make changes as they come to you. You won’t have a second or third draft. You’ll have an organism that changes slowly, shedding skin as you reach milestones for core aspects of its development.

Metamorphosis is a better image for how your story will transform after polishing, so if you’ll bear with my disgusting metaphor…revision is about shedding layer after layer after layer, changing subtle bit by subtle bit by subtle bit, until, at last, you’re nothing but a…CATERPILLAR! Then it’s time to crawl into the cocoon, do a hot read (Step 13), and put the revision notes and hot read notes to use and patiently toil so that your manuscript can emerge a wonderful butterfly (Step 14).

Next week, you’re a level 5 revisionist

The spirit of revision is restraint, no more than it is for writing itself. I have been sharing some of the higher levels of revision that I use, the with goal of presenting stages of complexity so you can think about and try some of the simpler before moving onto the harder. In truth, however, this presentation is an ideal representation of what is, in practice, much more chaotic. Nonetheless, a procedure is taught in any work place so that the workers will know what they should be doing, so that when they must improvise (most of the time), they can at lease improvise in style. So I sort out and share the method I follow in the hope that you, my fellow writer, will takes some notes and revise in style. (Unlike the office workplace, the storytelling office is one where you improve ALL the time).

In my next post (3 weeks from now) I will move to the highest level of advancement and talk about the most painstaking (and worthwhile) extents I go to ensure I have fully developed a story – to ensure not that a story is perfect (because no story can be written perfectly), but that it is complete.


Graeme Brown has been writing epic fantasy since he was a child and continues to develop his stories every day. He is the author of The Pact and is an editor for Champagne Books.

Find out more about Graeme and his writing by visiting his website, HERE.



Filed under Graeme's World, Storybuilder Inc. Outlining and Storytelling Process

Storybuilder Inc. — Step 9: A Cold Read

When to stop writing

When you are finished writing your draft, you might want to take a vacation from writing. Many writers work on something else then come back to their older manuscripts. While it’s true that this alternation creates much-needed distance, it’s not necessary. What is necessary, however, is for you to switch gears from creator to appreciator.

One way to achieve this is by doing a cold read of your manuscript. I’ve written about cold read revision already. If you want a play-by-play, visit The Writer’s Vinyard, here (though I will repeat the content of that post here for convenience). Otherwise, if you want more about the rationale behind it, you can visit my guest post on Scarlett van Dijk’s blog, here.  What the cold read allows you is the chance to rest from writing and the chance to get a different perspective on your work, without unplugging you from your project.

Of course, you might just want a break, in which case that’s fine. I took a one week break when I finished my current novel. After one year of hard work, every day, I couldn’t think about writing at all. I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment, and slowly built up the urge to jump back in to the next stage.

Whether you write something else or jump in right away, doing a cold read as a first step is a great tool for restraint. Revision is a difficult process in that it involves making small alternative decisions long after you made your original ones. Often, the best changes made in revision are very subtle and have more sway than large ones. How do you appreciate what changes to make? You need to see your story as a whole, and that’s where the cold read comes in.

Getting started:

1) Save your story in .epub format, then put it in your Kobo or Kindle. (If you don’t have an eReader, this would be a good reason to go and buy one.) Reading your story like a book allows you to get comfy in a chair, in bed, or wherever you’d otherwise read a book. You can take it with you, read it on the bus, while you’re waiting two hours at your doctor’s appointment, etc. Most importantly, having your story in an eReader gets you away from the computer where, even if you read it in .pdf, you might be tempted to open the Word file and make changes to a part that bothers you.

2) Have a notebook or notepad ready, and take notes as you go through, in the form of a checklist. Ideally, have a small one that’s easy to tuck away with your eReader.

Once you are ready to go, here are some tips to help you stay on track:

1) Take a break from writing while you are reading. Don’t open the file. Let it rest. If you don’t, then such revising detours will slow the process down, and reduce the vantage point you have of going over your story at reader-pace.

2) Don’t worry about typos or mistakes. This will just bog you down. You will be going over the manuscript later and weeding them out.

3) Avoid writing out the solution to problems in your manuscript. Every time you stop to take notes, you stop reading, which you normally wouldn’t do when reading a book, so it’s important to be taking notes just to stop and give yourself reminders of things you will have to address when you begin revising.

Some good things to take note of during your cold read:

“The pacing is slow here”

“This character contradicts what she said three chapters ago”
(You appreciate this because as a reader it didn’t take the 3 months to get from chapter 5 to chapter 7 it took you as a writer)

“This scene doesn’t add to the story and can get cut back”

“Wait a minute…now that I know what this character does in the end, his actions 3/4 through make no sense at all”

“I’m rambling”

“Info dump!”

“This conversation is stilted and unrealistic. Rewrite.”

“My protagonist complains a lot. Yikes. Annoying! I’m going to have to change that. How can I make her more likeable? Simple fix, doesn’t have to be complicated. Brainstorm 3 ideas, 1), 2), 3)”
(Leave space and fill in those 1, 2, 3, slots later)

Some effective note-taking strategies to speed up revision:

1) Write 4-6 words in succession from the spot in question so you can get there using the “find” feature. I like to put quotations around them to differentiate from notes. I.e. “slammed on the table, churning”. That should take me to the spot in question, and if I have more than one place in the manuscript where I use those words exactly like that, I’d better go and revise that too!

2) Ask questions. This will give you fodder for later and inspire some at-the-keyboard creativity during polishing. I.e. “What does she hope to gain over Gordon? Isn’t she supposed to be high-society? Think about her upbringing…”

3) Suggest later or earlier spots in the manuscript where the issue you are addressing might rear it’s head so you can hop there as well when you get to that part on your checklist. For example, if you are dealing with an explanatory passage and there is another one at the end, as well as some foreshadowing in chapter 2, you will want to go between all of these places to make sure it is all balanced.

Do not revise just yet…

I mentioned that outlining and drafting are parts 1 and 2 of a larger storytelling cycle. There are four total, that being 3, the post-draft integrated outline, and 4, revision. That’s right, revision does not come after drafting! Instead, we resume outlining, now that we have a story told, and will use this post-draft outline as a framework for revision, the same way we used the pre-draft outline for drafting.

And, just as the first step of pre-draft outlining is to think about your story idea through the development of a premise, the first step of post-draft outlining is to read the actual story it became and think about how that story can be refined.

Then, when your cold read is done, you will be ready for the next step: creating subframes.


Graeme Brown has been writing epic fantasy since he was a child and continues to develop his stories every day. His his first story, The Pact, is now available for

KoboKindle, and other ebook formats through Burst Books.

You can follow Graeme on Twitter (@GraemeBrownWpg) or on his blog:



Filed under Graeme's World, Storybuilder Inc. Outlining and Storytelling Process