You have entered your last keystroke of your manuscript. The room buzzes with the last words on the page. Celebrate and cha-cha around your living room. It’s a milestone, whether you’ve done it once or a million times. Take a break and share with someone!

Completing your novel is also a single step to getting your book into print. So if you want to send the novel to an editor or publisher, you don’t want to skip this crucial task: an inventory of all the important events in the book.

There are many advantages that we can get from browsing our masterpiece. (Yes, it’s a beautiful work of art, but even great works of art start with sketches and improve with revision and practice.)

Does this sound like a tedious extra step? Maybe, but it is a worthy one that can save you some rejections and fix editing problems that we all have when creating our novels.

Writing style is important

As a plotter or panther – the listing of important events in your novel may look different depending on the style of writing. But for both of them, going chapter by chapter can be useful for many reasons.

  • You can examine your work structurally and fix expensive problems before sending your work to an editor.
  • You can create a query overview more easily and respond more flexibly to various agent/publisher requests.
  • With a practical overview of your novel, it will be easier for you to create marketing materials and promotional items.
  • You will have a better elevator pitch and a better blurb because you have worked out the deep essence of your story.

Your writing style may change if you create an overview of important events:

  • Panthers can spend more time reviewing their work after the novel.
  • Plotters will see how their work differs from their original sketches/notes and will have a clean copy of the actual manuscript as it was written.
  • Inspecting your entire novel will give writers a bird’s eye view of your book. It takes patience, but the process can save us valuable time in the future.

What do you want me to do? Let me tell you…

1. The first step is simple, but it takes the most time. First, make a list of the most important events for each chapter of your novel.

(I’m using OneNote to organize this, but there are several other ways that work as well. At the end of the post, I have organization methods that many authors use.)

2. Once you’ve melted down your words from solid gold, take this stripped-down version of your book to examine its structure.

3. Consider the following ways to use your list of the most important events below.

1. Scroll through the main points.

In the editing phase, I scan through my chapters and summarize the most important points on separate pages. One Note makes this a neat, easy-to-use experience. My current novel has a literal timer in the whole story and is an aspect I need to get right. How much time has passed is crucial to the story, must make sense to keep the plot moving. I can now figure this out much faster than other methods.

What helped me tremendously is that I can quickly scroll through the chapters in OneNote and easily recognize the bullet points for events. and see if the times line up one after another, aligning with how much time should have passed.

Would you like more information about this software? Here is a fantastic post on the features of OneNote by Jenny Hansen.

2. Repair plot holes.

Maybe your timeline works, but in my book I noticed that some chapter events were thin, while others were bulky with bullet points. I asked myself a few questions while smoothing my novel:

  • Where do I have long chapters and how can I divide them into more manageable reading pieces?
  • Do the characters have to do all the action scenes I have? Can some be cut or moved from overloaded chapters?
  • Does the sequence of actions make sense? For example, would someone take off their shoes and then go outside to the barn? Or vice versa?
  • Do the actions fit the personality of the character? And do they show growth throughout the novel?
  • Do the actions fit the setting? Could a different setting improve the flow of the novel or intensify the plot or plot?

3. Distribute the action.

Pay attention to conversation parties.

In my WIP, the main characters had to live underground while trying to communicate with other survivors after an asteroid hit their city. There are a lot of tense events, as their world browbeat to collapse from above, but they also develop a friendship.

While browsing through my events, I noticed that some chapters were filled to the extreme with conversations. They consume all their air in the bunker with words. Conversation in cooking, conversation in learning how to care for underground cultures. Conversations about past conversations to fill in the backstory. Some of it had to go away.

Balance your action and downtime scenes.

I realized that I added these details after an intense series of action scenes, but just too much. I had to pull it out, break it up and find places where I could put the quiet daily lull back into my story to balance the action scenes. The effect is a smoother reading.

4. Is there enough action?

Perhaps you will find chapters that do not have many events. Think of a tricky place in your novel and try to revise it with new actions.

  • Look at this scene. Drink coffee or tea or water. We all do it. But why do we want to read about it?
  • Can your characters witness an accident outside their window?
  • Does your MC fall or does he drop his ready-made anniversary dish over the kitchen floor? Does the cute waiter shove a note on a napkin to his secret crush?
  • Make the most of the daily events and think over your plot.

Can you add activities? If a scene reveals a secret over coffee, maybe your characters can spread the news while riding on the beach or chasing the not found villain.

Add an interesting action. The more unexpected, but more plausible, the more the reader will continue out of curiosity.

Adding more action to an introspective scene can take the reader further, and you reduce the risk of him leaving the book during a slow passage.

5. Is there enough internalization?

Take a look at their main points. Also add these internal revelations for each chapter. The character’s growth arc should be visible when scanning through these events. Consider the following questions and examples.


  • Did you write the A-ha moments that your characters have? How many?
  • When do you realize that you have feelings for someone or when you realize that you would rather be a florist than a lawyer? Is this at a turning point in history?
  • Do they flow in a logical order?
  • Does the character have a satisfactory solution to his initial struggle?
  • Do you have enough growth to excite the reader?
  • Do you get feelings from your growth? Will your readers? If you can evoke these feelings in your readers, they will connect with your MC and want more from your story.

6. Do you have a feeling for the setting in each chapter?

Make a clear connection

Make sure that your events have a clear connection to the place and this will be clear on the page. You can force your MC to steal the magic brooch, and although the reader may remember the last chapter, it’s a nice courtesy to add details that will help him remember it. Readers want a clear, seamless and entertaining read. This is one way to achieve this.

But how?

Add pieces of furniture. She searched the queen’s vanity etched with flowers, sure that she was not noticed by the guards. She handed pieces of bacon to the queen’s dogs, who sat patiently outside.

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