#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Revision – Chapter Overview #authortoolboxbloghop

time to revise

Last month I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, and I worked on revising a WIP. Revision/editing can be overwhelming at times. I know I’ve often felt that way. Recently, I’ve started using a new strategy – chapter overview. And it is so helpful, I wanted to share about it today.

I’m a total pantser. When I start to write a novel, my planning consists of thinking about my story idea and possibly jotting down a few stray ideas. Then I just sit down and type. So when I start to revise, I really have to analyze each part and determine if I need to keep it or not. This is where the chapter overview comes in. (Before I start this process, I’ve already done one read-through so I have a general idea how the story is flowing.)

First, I note the chapter number, the number of pages, and the act in which the chapter takes place. Next, I write a one-line summary of the chapter and write out the purpose of the chapter – What is this chapter doing to move the story forward? This is key in helping me determine whether this is something that needs to stay or go. I also list the characters and the role they play in the story, and then I do a short summary of each scene in the chapter.

I’ve made my own Chapter Overview template that I use to help me with this. I’ve seen other versions floating around online which I’ve also used before, but none of them had exactly all the things I wanted to include, so I made my own.

example chapter overview

Here’s a printable copy: my chapter planner

For me, this has really helped me dig into my story and find what’s working and what isn’t. But more and more, I’m realizing that people learn and think differently, so you just have to find what works for you. If you’re a hard core planner, you might do all this before you even start to write because that’s what works best for you. I find that if I try to do too much planning before typing out my story it interrupts my flow and the story seems to crumble. Either way, I hope you find my chapter overview helpful.

What about you? How do you work best? What are some of the things you find helpful when you’re revising? Let me know in the comments! πŸ™‚

Side Note: Earlier for the bloghop, I did a post on the different kinds of editing. If you missed it, you can read itΒ here. (Cataloging chapters is part of the developmental edit.)


This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To check out all the participating blogs, or to join in the fun goΒ here.


16 thoughts on “Revision – Chapter Overview #authortoolboxbloghop”

  1. I am a total pantser as well. Plus a super slow writer. Combined means I am NOT a fan of the editing phase at all. I’m learning to be a better self editor, but honestly I work best finishing the dang thing, then tossing it to my trusty CPs for a first look before I do any edits. I can see what they see and adjust accordingly.

  2. Hi Charity, I think our writing styles sound similar. I also just sit down and write, and I am at the point where, like you, I have to determine what to cut and keep in a manuscript. I like your suggestions for the questions I can ask myself as I revise. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  3. Your one page summery of your chapter is perfect. Writing a novel is a puzzle with each scene and/or chapter a puzzle piece. Your summery allows you to see what fits.

    I’m a mixture of plotter and pantser. I write a one page outline of the chapter before I write it. That allows me to see if the puzzle fits, does it move the story forward. So far that system works.

  4. I am a pantsliner..oops that doesn’t sound right. But a combo of pantser and outliner. I love the chapter overview planner! I’m going to grab it. I usually scribble out Chapter 1 and make notes in my spiral notebook. Your plan has a lot more I can use. Thank you!
    JQ Rose

  5. I love this idea, and I love that you’ve made a custom little sheet (thanks for sharing that) – I’m going to give this method a try along with my usual more instinct-based editing style!

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