Also known as content edits, macro edits are the point in the editing process where big story changes are made, those in plot or character. In my case, for this debut novel, it’s a merging of two characters (not main characters) into one to tighten and focus the story. I’ve never done a macro edit before (or a character merge for that matter), but here’s how it seemed to me best to go about getting the “big picture” of what needed to change, and how:

1. Write a sentence or two or three describing each scene, or a couple of scenes, onto an index card.
2. Note whose POV each scene is written in.
3. Arrange them on the kitchen table in order.
4. Put on a good story-weaving CD (I chose the soundtrack to Ken Burns’ Lewis & Clark).
5. Stare down those cards, one at a time, think, and pray.
6. Make notes on a bright sticky pad on what needs to change in each scene in regards to that macro editing challenge, where applicable.
7. Stick the notes for the changes on the corresponding scene card (having left some blank space on each card for room to do so).
8. Repeat until the cards, or that plot thread, run out.

Supplies needed: index cards. Sticky notes. A pen and a prayer.

It proved far easier than the days I spent trying to rework this story element in my head, with all those scenes buried in the computer, out of sight and out of mind. Or if not out of mind, then blurred and jumbled in mind.

Think I’ll leave them out for a day or so (and find somewhere else for meals), to be sure I’ve hit upon the best ideas for these needed changes. Often the first ideas aren’t the best, just the most obvious.

But it’s a start.

Do you (if you’re a writer) approach macro or content edits in this way? Or is there another method or trick that works better for you? I really (really!) would love it if you shared it in the comments.

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