Project Manage Your Novel Revision

Saturday, February 13, 2016
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Have you ever read a blog post about the craft of writing and thought, “Well, why didn’t I think of that?” This happened to me recently, when I checked out the blog post How Being a Project Manager Helped Me Become a Better Storyteller, by WOW! Blog Tour author Jennifer-Lynn Keniston. Jennifer works as a project manager by day, and she shared tips on how her day job helped her complete and publish her first novel.

I’m the type of person who has to have deadlines—hard and fast ones. If I know an editor is waiting on something from me, I make sure I have it completed on time. When it comes to my own writing projects, I’m wimpy at best. I either hyperfocus until I finish a draft or I take my sweet time. I think this is why National Novel Writing Month works for me—because there’s a specific timeline. Unfortunately, once it is over, I’m not very good about reconnecting with the manuscripts I produce.

After reading Jennifer’s blog post, I told myself I was going to develop a plan of action to complete the first round of revisions on a young adult manuscript I wrote in 2014 during NaNoWriMo. I put my project manager hat on, and here’s what I came up with, including some fun motivational exercises taken from Novel Shortcuts, Ten Techniques That Ensure a Great First Draft by Laura Whitcomb.

Project: Round One Revision for Contemporary Young Adult Novel: Under My Skin
Author: Renee Roberson
Timeline: 8 Weeks
Project Breakdown:

Week One:
Revise Chapters 1-3
Exercise: Put together music playlist for the novel.

Week Two: 
Revise Chapters 4-6
Exercise: Write 150 words of jacket copy. This will help drill down the core of the story.

Week Three: 
Revise Chapters 6-8
Exercise: Make a Pinterest board for the novel. Pin images of setting, what the characters might look like, pictures that represent themes, etc.

Week Four: 
Revise Chapters 9-11
Exercise: List five weak areas in the novel. Write solutions for how to tackle each one of them in the revision.

Week Five: 
Revise Chapters 12-14
Exercise: The Ten-Minute Heartstorm. Set a timer and write as fast as you can about a pivotal scene in ten minutes. Don’t overthink it. Let the emotions take over the page.

Week Six: 
Revise Chapters 15 and 16
Exercise: Focus on turning crosshair moments into great moments. Read previous chapters and make sure this is happening.

Week Seven:
Revise Chapters 17 and 18
Exercise: Remember Your Dream. List ten reasons why you want to be a novelist. Read them out loud to yourself.

Week Eight: 
Revise Chapters 19
Exercise: Do a cursory line edit of completed first draft. Pass on to beta reader.

We’ll see how it goes. Putting it all down on paper (and mixing in a few fun exercises) has made me excited to dive back into the story. My schedule is also pretty full with freelance writing projects in the next few months so this will require some serious time management.

Have you used a similar method to complete your own writing projects? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also works as a Blog Tour Manager for WOW! Women on Writing. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Charlotte Parent, Lake Norman Currents, The Charlotte Observer, The Writer and more. When she’s not working on client projects, she enjoys spending time with her family and writing young adult and middle grade fiction.
Visit her website at:


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Admitting you have a problem (when it comes to no hard and fast deadlines) is the first step...

Congratulations on making a timeline. I hope you're able to stick to it, so you can finish your revision of your novel.

Good luck.

Margo Dill said...

One of my critique group members actually had her husband project manage her writing for her! It was a really interesting process. I say WHATEVER WORKS!

Ashley B. Davis said...

Throwing the fun monotony-breaking exercises in and breaking the weeks down into certain chapters are great ideas! I need to revise a YA too. I'll be using this plan of attack. 😊

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