Memoir Tip #119: Tracking First Draft Changes Part 2

In Memoir Tip #118 we talked about some of the changes you should track when writing your first draft. Today we will discuss different options for tracking. How you track will depend on several things:

  1. How you prepare to write: plotter, pantser, or a bit of both.
  2. How you write: by hand, on type writer (if you know what that is), or on a computer.
  3. Your personal style and preferences.

Below I am going to give you a few options for tracking. This is not an exhaustive list and there are likely many ways beyond these to track. In fact, I recommend you try out several different ways, combine different options and even add your own personal twists to them. There is no one “right” way to track changes, in fact it is very personal and the only thing that matters in the end is that it works for you. So don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what works.

Writing by hand or on a type writer

  1. Use the margins to note that a shift occurred and jot down any details you might want to add to previous text and where in the text that might be added.
  2. Use brackets (), {}, or [] to write down any details you might want to add to previous text and where in the text that might be added.
  3. Use a separate piece of paper to capture any details you might want to add to previous text and where in the text that might be added. Just be sure to number them in the script and on the paper so they are easy to find again.
  4. Create a plot grid with a column where you can note changes and any details you want to add to previous text and where in the text those changes need to go.

Writing on a computer

  1. Use comments to enter information noting that a shift occurred and any details you might want to add to previous text and where in the text that might be added.
  2. Use brackets (), {}, or [] to write down any details you might want to add to previous text and where in the text that might be added.
  3. Use footnotes or endnotes to note where a change happened and any details you might want to add to previous text and where in the text that information might be added.
  4. Create a spreadsheet to map your plot with a column to capture any details you might want to add to previous text and where in the text that might be added. Just be sure to number them in the script and on the paper so they are easy to find again.

As you can see there are many different ways to track and the amount of detail you include may vary depending on the change and how far into the plot you are when the change occurs. The method and amount of detail will vary based on your personal style, how much you plan or not, and your method of writing. Find what works for you and run with it. The goal is to get through the first draft.

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