I Really Should Be Editing My Novel…

Yeah, I should be editing my novel.

You know what hasn’t happened in the last week and a half? Me, editing my novel.


Editing is boring. And stressful.

A lot like school. Which I’m trying to avoid.

Right now, I’m breaking down my novel into specific scenes and then keeping a detailed account of what happens in every scene of the book in an Excel document. It looks like this so far:

DMC excel screenshot


That’s not all of it. And I’m only a third of a way through the book.

Every box is a specific moment. Usually a lot of them come together to make what a reader would consider a “scene.” They are color coded based on how confident I feel about the plot/writing showcased in that scene, and how much they have to be rewritten. The large column on the left contains my notes for how scenes should be rewritten.

It’s complicated. But that’s what happens when you wrote an entire book without an outline. You pay for it later in the form of extremely boring Excel documents.

This may look like a waste of time, but it isn’t. I’m basically inverting the entire plot of my novel, changing how the romance plays out, making side characters play greater roles, and trying to make my main characters more alive and complex. Just knowing what I wrote the first time is the first step to completely revamping it.

My goal for this summer was to finish editing Devil May Care. That’s not going to happen. I got out of school June 3rd. I go back to school in a month, on August 11th. It’s crazy!

Meanwhile, in my last month of free time, my Speech and Debate club at school is holding practices, I’m supposed to be doing DriversEd online, I’m trying to keep up with this blog, keep up with current events (for Speech and Debate as well as for myself), read tons more books, go to fencing classes, hang out with friends, spend time with my family, sleep and breathe.

Editing is feeling like an impossible task, when vying for time against the rest of those obligations.

I knew it would be hard. And I knew summer would fly by. But this week is the halfway mark (I think, that might have been last week) of my summer vacation.

I feel like I haven’t really accomplished anything. And I know that next year is going to be super hard, with my first AP class and pre-calc on my plate, so editing will be forced to hold even less of my time and attention.

I still have four weeks of my summer. I just have to actually use them.

6 thoughts on “I Really Should Be Editing My Novel…

  1. Sad to hear it’s a boring task, but wish you luck again. I’ve never thought of using Excel for scenes, unsure of how to format it, really, but it could be useful. Minutes ago I finished a brief outline of another novel idea I have, and it’s all over the place – I literally have no idea what is going on, or if it makes sense; it’s just jumbled rubbish, (and it’s Sci-Fi which for me requires the biggest amount of research, and I hate that). Now, after seeing your way of laying it out, I’m thinking of trying something out like that.

    But, I do have some questions about how you’ve done it. They probably come off quite stupid, but here goes:

    With the days, is that for the book, or when you plan to rewrite the scenes?


    For each scene, is there a certain pattern for them running vertically and horizontally? Like for horizontal, are each of the scenes from different perspectives or the number in a chapter?

    If that all makes sense. My apologies if it doesn’t, I’m just intrigued by the way you outline. 🙂


    • Basically how I set it up is this:
      The first column is my thoughts on how to rewrite the scene. The second column is the day of the week that the scene takes place on in the story. (My story is set during high school so it’s very important if it is a school day or a weekend.) From then on, the columns stop mattering. Each horizontal row is a day. Each box is a scene. They go chronologically from left to right. If the day only had a few scenes, there will be a few boxes filled. Usually my days are longer and fill up anywhere from 10-20 boxes horizontally. I decide to move onto a new box if the setting changes or the focus of the scene (usually a conversation) changes. I don’t mark chapter breaks anywhere. If the scene is from a different POV I write that in the box in the description of the scene.
      Does this help? I think I’ll do a followup post tomorrow anyway with this visually shown.
      I would definitely advise filing out this chatt as you write, not after. The last project I worked on I did it as I was writing. I should have done that this time but I was lazy.
      Glad to help. Hopefully your story idea pans out; it sounds interesting. 🙂


      • Ah, okay. Thank you for clearing this up. I’ll definitely try something like this soon. I also have one other question about your characters, where do you draw you inspiration from for their names or where do they orignate from? They’re awesome and I’ve never heard them before.

        And thanks! It’ll have to be put on hold for actually writing it for now, but hope to get the planning done soon so I can move onto that point. 🙂


        • Thanks 🙂 Unfortunately, I don’t really know where I get most of my character names. Usually they are just normal names that I feel match the characters. Sometimes I try closing my eyes and just typing random letters and using those to make names. I’ll add vowels and remove some consonants until it is somewhat pronounceable. That’s my strategy for fantasy character names.
          For Hell and Styx I got the names from the story inspiration, which was just the idea of two different versions of the afterlife/underworld meeting at a funeral. Styx is an allusion to the River Styx in Greek mythology; I didn’t want to name someone “underworld” because it felt unwieldy. Really I just grab a name and run with it. Sometimes I look back and wonder why that name made sense at all, but usually I’m happy with my “gut instincts.”


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