When Kate publicly accuses her commanding officer of treason, she not only ruins her shot at becoming a military pilot but also puts her family on the brink of social and political destruction. If she wants a second shot at becoming a pilot, and keep her family from losing everything, Kate will need to work with her uptight and over-bearing super-spy sister to find the proof that will clear her name.


First Draft

1st Draft Completed 8/3/2018


Revision: Reading Pass Act 1

About Project

Goal: 90,000 words

As a self-described “pantser” when it comes to writing, this project included two new processes that I have either never used or have limited experience with.

  1. Dictation
  2. An Outline


The first draft of this project was completely dictated on my commutes to and from work (~1 hour in the morning, ~1.5 hours in the evening), and occasionally during my lunch break.

I started tracking scenes instead of words because I do one scene per commute, and the narrative is bare bones. The actual word count will increase naturally as I do stuff like turn “She was angry” into “Her smile faded, lips pressing into a flat line. She folded her arms across her chest and looked out the window.” For the way that I dictate, tracking scenes is a more accurate representation of my progress towards “the end” than word count.

Outlining (Pre-writing)

I go into outlines and my strong feelings about their evilness in several blog posts. I have come to grips with the fact that they are (for me) a necessary evil if I want to finish a project. I tried a variety of methods for outlines, including all of the popular beat-sheets, how-to books and blogs, etc., but still had an unacceptable number of false starts.

I can’t pinpoint a single problem that I had with any of the things I tried except that I needed more. More help? More skill? I don’t know. But I know I wasn’t getting the results I wanted from those many methods that were working for everyone else*. 

I ended up going back to Dramatica. Dramatica is not a quick fix. Dramatica does not make things easier. In fact, it makes things a lot, lot harder. If you can get a story you are happy with using any other method then, oh my heck, use a different method! I spent 8 months wrestling with the Dramatica theory and I barely understand what I’m doing. But I do understand that it’s only because of those 8 months of abject torture that I finally have an outline (and now a draft!) that feels like it’s on the right track.

9/25/2018: I’m going through first revision now and finding the gaps in the story. The draft follows the outline I created off of Dramatica. It’s not “wrong”, per se, but it’s not quite the story I want. I am re-outlining my existing content using the original Dramatica Throughline/Signpost results as a guide. This means nothing to people that don’t use Dramatica, so don’t worry about it. Regardless, I am continually pleased with the results.


Revision (rewriting) for this story will come in several phases. Without a goal and specific milestones, I’ll just wander around aimlessly and ultimately make more work for myself, just like when writing by the seat of my pants. So, I have outlined my revision process for this story. …Project management: Fiction style.

  1. Let the story sit for 6 solid weeks. Read other books (I did!). Start brain storming and pre-writing a new story (and I did!)
  2. Reading pass:
    1. Read the entire story.
    2. Edit nothing. (This was hard, because dictation is c-r-a-p).
      1. NOTHING. Not dialog. Not prose. Not grammar. Nothing.
        1. Make that one tiny fix and you’ll experience “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie” in the form of your inner editor. It’s not pretty. Ask me how I know.
        2. The point is to not make more work for yourself. Fixing stuff at this point is like mending holes in your trashed shoes before throwing them out.
    3. Go scene by scene and make notes of what big picture plot issues need to be dealt with.
      1. Identify where new scenes might be needed.
      2. Identify where stuff needs rearranging or rewriting, etc.
      3. Identify characterization issues, if characters need to be cut or merged, etc.
  3. Outlining/Dictation Pass
    1. Start rearranging blocks of text, scenes, etc. Still no editing.
    2. Outline new scenes.
    3. Dictate those scenes.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as often as necessary until the big picture finally works.
  5. NOW consider the editing phase… which will also have phases ranging from characterization, prose, continuity, and grammar passes.

The acronym “SNAFU” stands for “Situation Normal: All F***ed (or Fouled) Up. It’s a working title based on the idea that everything that can go wrong does go wrong during the course of this story and that, as far as Kate is concerned, this is perfectly normal. The title may change depending on the final product.