Memoir Tip #118: Tracking First Draft Changes Part 1

In Memoir Tip #117 I talk about the twists and turns out plot takes while writing the first draft. Many are planned or expected, but occasionally one crops up that is unexpected. This occurs less frequently with memoir than it does with fiction, but it still occurs since our memory is often triggered as we write. These unexpected shifts often Trips up new writers. Instead of continuing to write forward they stop and go back to rewrite the pervious text in order to support this new piece of information. But once they start writing forward again another change jumps in and the stop again. Eventually, they give up because it seems as if their story will never be finished. To prevent this, and to be able to write forward with confidence, you will want to track where these changes occur and possibly even note ares in the previously written text where you want to add details or information during the revising/editing phase. When I talk about tracking the following two questions arise:

  1. What is it I should track?
  2. What is the best way to track it?

Today we will look at what you should track. Now there are a large number of things that may need to be tracked and it can vary greatly depending on the format you are using for your book, but here are a few of the key things to track:

  1. New or unexpected characters
  2. New or unexpected information, tools, skills or weapons
  3. New or unexpected events, situations or obstacles
  4. Changes in the protagonist’s or antagonist’s goal or motivation

The terms “new” and “unexpected” will vary greatly depending on your preperation or lack there of. If you are a plotter, then “new” and “unexpected” relate to anything that wasn’t in the original plot. If you are a pantser, then “new” and “unexpected” are a bit more difficult to define since you likely don’t know the path your story is taking. In this case, I suggest you consider anything that is not in alignment with, or supported by the previously written text as “new” and “unexpected.” If you are both a bit of both, then your definition “new” and “unexpected” will be a combination of the ones I just gave. In Fiction Tip #119 we will look at some of the different ways you can track these changes.

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