Speaking of testing….
The easiest and quickest form of testing is to run An Author’s Inspiration and observe what changes. This is as true for me as it is for you. I can say this because I’ve spent the last 2 hours debugging a writer configurable file, story.plots.
story.plots is not as complex as any writer configurable character file (such as Harry.character), but it is a long file and when it breaks, An Author’s Inspiration is unforgiving.
story.plots demands every beat be described completely and correctly. To my annoyance, I had done a massive edit job on story.plots for my own novel The Striker – X-Division Assignments, and I crashed An Author’s Inspiration. Rather than follow my own advice (I am writing extended user manuals that cover this expected problem), I tried to play it smart using design tools.
C’mon, Richard! An Author’s Inspiration already works fine. You broke it, not the other way around—stop schtupping through the code. So, here’s an object lesson for my readers once they have either a beta or release version of An Author’s Inspiration in their hands.
How I did it
As I will advise in those mentioned manuals: always keep back-ups of all files.
Further advice: rename your problem file, and replace it with an original. In this case I took my version of story.plots, renamed it story.plotsX, and I recovered the distribution file story.plots. This would crash An Author’s Inspiration too, because I do not support the character names found in it with character files in my novel’s folder.
Thus replace all occurrences of Harry (and Beatrix) with one of your own characters. In my case, that is Wade supported with my file Wade.character. In your case, you need to do likewise. The reason why using story.plots cold will break An Author’s Inspiration is because there must be a character file for all POV characters named in story.plots.
An Author’s Inspiration has enough robustness to generate an outline from this simple operation—and it should be your first step in editing the file story.plots.
From here, I copied beat one from my story.plotsX to beat one of my slightly changed, but working, story.plot. Then I ran An Author’s Inspiration with a second successfully generated outline.txt. This operation needed to be repeated until An Author’s Inspiration crashed due to a poorly formed beat description.
Five beats in I observed the problem: a missing quote mark. This is a catastrophic error. This is an extremely difficult error to observe in the totality of the file’s contents. Using this method I describe, this is a simple error to recover from.
With that missing quote supplied, all 23 remaining beats moved in without a hitch. (Yeah, I broke my own advice with that massive cut’n’paste, but faith was rewarded!)