Learn. Propel.

(This is a re-post from www.jolenebperry.com)

I use LEARN and PROPEL a LOT – especially when I’m revising.

After working through agent notes on one MS, and my first beta reader notes on another, I find myself going back to the basics.

When a writer shifts something near the beginning of their MS, especially when it has to do with the revealing of information, the whole rest of the novel has to shift. If the rest of the novel doesn’t have to shift, that bit really, really needed to change.

I was about to sit down and do the outline that I very often do at this part of the process, when I thought I’d share this little part of my process. (Yes, AFTER I’ve written the book – If I outline before, it’ll change so much that I get mad at myself for wasted time)

First, you need a snack and something yummy to drink. Yes, “yummy,” don’t question my methods.

Actually. Question away. Learn. Try. Discover. Figure out what works for you. This might not.

So. Now that I have my “yummy” drink and a snack, I lie on my stomach, pull out a pen I like to use (today that pen happens to be purple) and start at the beginning of my novel. Laptop resting off to the left, notepad to the right (me being right-handed and all).

For each scene, I write down – WHAT DO I LEARN? And then, in very simple terms, what I learned.

Next I write – HOW DOES THIS PROPEL MY STORY FORWARD? And then another very simple sentence on how this pushes the plot forward.

OK. Fine. I Just write LEARN: and then PROPEL: And it looks like this:


There are times when I realize that good information is given, but the propellant is weak.

There are other times when I realize that nothing new is revealed, so that propellant needs to be used somewhere else.

Sometimes I realize that I’ve learned the same thing twice. A reminder is okay, but not a re-learn.

By default, the propellant and the info should be related.

Sometimes I make notes in my notebook as to how things need to change. More often in comments throughout my MS. I don’t change yet, I just plan the change…

And then after a workout, or cleaning part of my house, I start at the beginning and tweak the parts that need tweaking.

So, my ice cubes are melting in my dry blood orange sparkling water, and I only have the first two short chapters done…

I’ll see y’all later,


If you want to share  a favorite revising tool, PLEASE DO!

Published by Jolene Perry

Hiker. Occasional Yogi. Equestrian. Couch potato. Music lover. Mediocre guitar player. Sailor. Tailor. Home body. Traveler. Enjoys suffering from being interested in everything. Co-founder and instructor at Waypoint Author Academy. Rep'd by Amy Bishop of Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

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