I've been working on a novel for several years, and it's now in its nth revision/edit cycle. But hey, putting that in perspective, it takes eons to create a diamond. As if! (Sigh)
Kind of like Mahala, this time around, I'm using a graph to chart each character's progress within each chapter, right down to mentioning at least one of the five senses--especially for the protagonist. The graphs remind me to set up place, conflict, and hooks.
Hint: Create an Excel file; down the left side, list all of the attributes/questions you want to address; across the top columns put in the chapter numbers. I print it off, three-hole punch it, and put the pages in a binder. [This, of course, is not necessary if you can keep two computer documents open at the same time.] Then all you have to do while your editing is put a checkmark under the chapter if the row item is in the chapter.
Teed-jus, but worth it. I use the same process to develop character studies before they're inserted into the story. That way I know enough about their backgrounds/speech/habits/temperment to have their actions and reactions appear totally in character.
These graphs give me the feedback I need to make sure the characters have dissimilar speech patterns and actions. They also help me track when I "disappear" one of them from the plot.
I have more than one work-in-progress and often get turned around on the different personalities. It's amazing how many times I have to refer to the character studies to keep me straight as I write.
By the way, I didn't know that Mahala was using this same method when I started mine. Great minds and all that, I guess.
I have another revision process going on as well--my recipes and Thanksgiving menu so I can accommodate the various special diet needs that have arisen in 2010 among my family and friends. This year, it won't be my traditional foods, but I'm pretty sure I can put together a Smorgasbord table without ruining taste or presentation.
You keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same.
The Jeff Johnston picture is of a wolf singing among the golden aspens of Colorado.