"I made a geometric picture of how I wanted the parts of the story to relate to each other."Rick Wilber recently linked to this article in the NY Times about writers doing actual architectural models of stories.
I reminded of Geoff Ryman generously allowing Julian Todd and I to read and critique an early draft of "Blocked," which we thought a step down from Ryman's usual work (I didn't directly state this at the time, but instead actively sought the theme and other working parts--as I would normally do in a critique). The next draft was stunningly improved--largely by following the above--not in huge passages but little details that made the difference. The same story was nominated for the Locus award and appeared in three Year's Best anthologies.