My Planning Process

Yesterday I discussed different outlining methods for your novel. I talked about three techniques, but there are many more. Many are out there on the Internet and others are private between the novel and the author.

So today, I’m going to share my magnificent outlining secret!

Not really… I’m pretty sure I’ve seen people use this way before even though I thought I made it up myself.

All you need are six items: index cards, post-it notes, a pen, a pencil, a notebook, and tape. I like to use the bigger index cards to fit more notes. I also use colored index notes to make it look pretty. Same goes for the post-it notes; use pretty colors (but that’s totally optional). I use a pen to write on the index cards and post-it notes (because that’s what a pen is for). I use the pencil to number each post-it note (I’ll explain further in a minute). I use a notebook to put the post-it notes and the index cards. I use the tape to hold the index cards in place on the pages.

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I’ll use Detective Florence 2 as an example of this untitled outlining method. I have a total of ten index cards (there may end up being more). On one card I wrote a list of characters in the novel; main, secondary, minor, etc. I also wrote their ages and their purpose in the story. The list was too long so I taped a second index card on the bottom to continue the list. One card has a list of plot points; questions that need to be answered by the end of the book. One card is a general list of notes about plot, setting, characters, anything. Since DF2 is a mystery novel, two of the index cards are death details; “who, what, where, why, how, when” questions and answers. Two cards are the culprits plans; again, the who, why, what, etc. questions. It’s a lot of repetition, but mysteries have a lot of information that need to be remembered. I also have an index card with a list of dates and a small summary of what the characters did on each date. It helps keep track of the times and days in the novel for the characters. The last card is editing points, which I don’t create until I start the editing process.

I tape those down on the first few pages of the notebook, as shown above.

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The rest of the pages are filled with post-it notes. I use the pen to write in each scene on post-it notes. Each scene takes multiple post-its because I do a minute-by-minute summary. I don’t say, “this will happen in this scene.” I say, “George will do this” then “Lilah will say that.” Post-it notes are small and my handwriting is big; but I think it’s more helpful to be more detailed rather than give a general summary of each scene. I like to lay each scene out so I know exactly what to do next. Sometimes it changes, but that’s okay; at least I start off with a plan.

That’s exactly why I use post-it notes. If something changes, I can easily add, take out, or simply rearrange the notes. That’s also where the pencil comes in. I number each post-it note–despite they’re already in order in the notebook–so if I move them around I can erase and re-number them instead of crossing out the numbers with a pen.

Since I’ve already edited the manuscript once, some post-its got moved around. Others got cut completely. However, you should never waste an idea you once thought was good or needed. So, in the back of the notebook I stack all the unused ideas together. Some might end up back in the novel and others might appear in the sequel. You just never know.

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If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see there are 15 notes that didn’t make the cut this time around.

Now, why do I use a notebook? When I first thought of this method I used a giant poster and stuck everything on there. I hung it on the wall behind my desk for easy access as I wrote and edited. The thing was, the post-it notes kept falling off the more I moved them around. They lost their stick so I tried taping them down like I did with the index cards. That just ripped the poster so I would have to replace the tape each time I moved a note. It was more tedious than it needed to be.

So I decided to use a notebook. I can close the cards and notes inside so they don’t fall off and they don’t get crinkled up. Plus, you can see from the pictures that there is still some room (mostly just the margins) to add in notes about the notes.

This method is easy, flexible, and doesn’t take much time. That’s why I love it so much. So feel free to try it out for yourselves, regardless of what genre you’re working on. I hope it works just as well for you as it does for me.

 

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New Idea

By the title of this post alone you’re probably groaning saying, “she changed her mind again…?” Yes, I did change my mind again!

Kris and I were discussing writing last night as she filled up a notebook and I… haven’t written anything in a while. So, we were discussing the upcoming NaNo session, writing in general, publishing, etc. This is what I explained to Kris:

I decided to write a novel that was a brand new idea about two college students and writing. I’ve realized whenever I get stuck on my writing I end up writing about writing. Yet if it beats the writer’s block, then why not? The thing is, I’m not really all that into the idea anymore. I still like the idea and will keep it in mind in case I ever want to try it again.

However, I had to read the first half of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien for school this week. I read it in two days and now I’m back on a fantasy high. So I thought of writing Saving Time. There are two things wrong with that. One, it’s the kind of story that needs to be outlined. I have many ideas for it and there are a lot of characters and places in the story. It’s not something I can free write or else editing will be a pain and I’ll most likely lose the main idea. Two, I started it in a notebook and I would like to finish it in my notebook. If for whatever reason I can’t get to a computer, I can still work on a novel. I know some people hand write for NaNo and I love that; kudos to all of you, but I don’t have the time to hand write 50,000 words and then type those 50,000 words to validate it. I might as well sit at my computer and bang out 100,000 words if I can. So, Saving Time is out.

The first draft of my story chapter is due next week for my Fiction class. I’m going to submit the first chapter of Detective Florence. Of course, we all know I decided to take a break from that series and now that I have to focus on the one chapter I’m beginning to realize that I miss writing that series. I still have the third novel to write, but like Saving Time, it needs to be outlined. If I don’t outline it, I’ll be stuck and the series will lose its main idea. So that’s out.

You guys are probably thinking that I’m coming up with too many excuses, but trust me; I’m not good at pantsing. I free write every once in a while, but I need that outline for the most part; especially since I recently discovered a great way to outline that works for me.

So, what am I going to write? Kris and I were discussing my Short Story Sunday and then…

Eureka

I realized what I should write for NaNo. I should write short stories. That way I can write about anything I want, any genre I want. Plus, I think the variety of stories will help me get over my writer’s block. I haven’t been able to write in so long that it’s gotten to the point that my brain isn’t used to it anymore and I’m indecisive about it all.

Plus, it will certainly be interesting to see how well I do within a certain amount of pages/words. We all know I tend to babble on, so if an idea sparks it just might end up turning into a novella… but I think it would be cool to have a collection of short stories at the end of the month. It’s something different. It’ll be a nice change of pace for myself.

I’m excited about it whereas I wasn’t too thrilled with my old idea. So I think I have a better chance at winning now that my enthusiasm has come back.

Going Home

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Today l’m leaving this beautiful place. I was lucky to stay seven full days this time whereas last time we only stayed five full days. Yet, l still feel as though we didn’t have nearly enough time.

I filled up my autograph book. There were still a few characters l wanted to see, but we saw and met a lot; a lot more than our last visit to Disney. Plus we got all the princesses (except Pocahontas). So, in that sense l guess there’s not much else to do.

I bought a lot of stuff for myself. I got a mug and a tumbler cup. The mug is of course Peter Pan and the tumbler is Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney together which is really cute.

Other than that l got a pack of three Tinkerbell notebooks and four novels. Yep. Books, notebooks, and cups. My three favorite things.

I have to hop in the car soon. I’ll be home tomorrow afternoon. Then l have to babysit for the rest of the week, school starts next week, work starts the week after that, and sunday school will start up again one of those sundays.

Back to reality.

Writing Schedule

I am happy to announce that I have finally come up with a plan for myself for my writing! Well… at least until the end of 2014.

For the past couple of days I’ve been trying to figure out Detective Florence. There are a lot of things I need to work on for both the first novel and the second, plus I need to write the third. Of course, I think the third novel is going to end up being the ending of the second novel, but for the sake of being more confused than I all ready am, I’m going to write it as though the story is it’s own novel.

As much as I don’t like editing, I figured I need to spend between now and November to edit. November will be used to write the third novel. In other words, I gave myself a deadline of November first.

I all ready edited Detective Florence during the month of June so I could write the sequel for Camp NaNo in July. With that being said, for the rest of August I’m going to type up the edited first draft of Detective Florence. I’m giving myself a whole month to do this because it’s all ready the ninth and in a week I’m going on vacation for a week (I’ll explain more about that on a later date).

For September, I’m going to edit the first draft of Detective Florence 2. Both school and work will start up again so this will be interesting to see.

In October, I’m going to type up the edited first draft of Detective Florence 2 and outline Detective Florence 3. I’m hoping to have the entire outline done as well as have all the questions answered. I also hope the novel (and the whole trilogy) will make enough sense so editing won’t be that bad.

November, of course will be spent writing Detective Florence 3 for NaNoWriMo. I think it’s funny that it’s been almost a year since I started the series.

I came up with the idea for Detective Florence a long time ago and started writing it in a notebook. All the characters were different except for Detective Florence himself, but he had a completely different personality. I can’t remember when I wrote it because I didn’t date it (I’m kicking myself for that one), but there’s about 31 pages written before I stopped. Maybe someday I’ll post a bit of it on here so we can all get a good laugh.

Of course, I may use that case and characters in another Detective Florence novel. Who knows? I have way too many ideas for these characters all ready.

I finally got it in my head again and I wrote it for November 2013’s NaNoWriMo. I’m pretty sure I hit 50k words on day 17, but I didn’t finish the whole novel until the end of December (or early January). Now a year later I’m going to be writing the third book.

Anyway, for this upcoming December, I’m not sure yet, but I might be editing the first Detective Florence again to give myself a break from writing the third one. Then I’ll either rotate editing through the series or I’ll edit one book at a time. It depends on if the outlines for all three novels makes sense and are in order with each other. So, December is up in the air for now, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

For now, I have plenty to do before November first.