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.

Goodbye 2013!

New Year

 

 

Today is the last day of 2013. How weird is that? I decided to do something special on here in celebration of 2014. I spent most of the morning going through all my blog posts from 2013. I had a good few laughs at the things that happened and there were also a lot of things that I couldn’t remember that happened. Oh, and I wish I counted all the typos I have made in my blog posts…sorry about that!

Anyway, I thought it would be cool to recap on everything that happened in 2013. I know WordPress sends something about views, stats, posts, pictures, comments, followers, etc. But my report is going to be about everything that actually happened in real life. And I know I don’t post every day or post about everything little thing that happens in my life, we can still get a pretty good idea on what’s been going on.

January:
–I was in the middle of writing The Blank Page.
–Dick passed away. Dick was an old man from my church. He did a lot for the church and the people apart of it. He passed away from a long hard-fought battle of lung cancer. It’s really hard to believe that it’s already been about a year since his death.
–We switched from Verizon to Comcast. My laptop still has internet issues because of this. It’s been almost a year of me fighting with my internet connection, too!
–My flash drive died and I lost everything. All the novels I was currently working on and already completed. All my lesson plans for Sunday school, everything for work, all my homework, among other things. I literally lost everything.

Feburary:
–About a week after my flash drive died, I finally got back into writing. I started writing Take Over (as The Blank Page was lost and I was too discouraged to re-write it). I worked on Take Over for the entire month.
–I got my driver’s license.

March:
–I prepared myself to write Saving Each Other for Camp NaNoWriMo in April.
–I continued writing Take Over.
–I sent my picture book Asking Bobby to a publisher.
–I came up with the idea of starting a vlog.

April:
–Wrote Saving Each Other for Camp NaNo and finished it. Began the second part, Seeing Things. I also finished Take Over and began writing The Blank Page again.
–I wrote one haiku a day for the NaPoWriMo, but finished after April.
–I finished my first vlog, but decided not to post it
–I began writing Far Away in a notebook
–I was interviewed by Briana Vedsted
–Did a Booky Questions and Blog Hopper survey
–I made a goal to finish The Blank Page in May, which never went through.

May:
–Attempted to write The Blank Page and the three novels that are written in that novel. None of them got finished.
–Made a writing and editing schedule which stuck for a little while.
–I was nominated for the Sunshine and Super Sweet Blogger awards.
–I began editing Diary of a Lover while my mom began to edit Take Over.

June:
–Finished the fourth draft of Diary of a Lover. I tried to print it out to let Kris edit it, but the printer broke.
–I began to edit Hunter because I didn’t want to start a new project before the next session of Camp NaNo in July.
–My sister Lisa moved out with her boyfriend, my two cousins moved in with my grandparents, and I graduated with my Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education.
–Began to write a Pokemon FanFiction that is still not finished.

July:
–I decided to write Cybertra for Camp NaNo, but ended up not finishing it in the end. I ended up not being into the story anymore. Needless to say, I lost that NaNo session.
–Kris and I tried out a new writing schedule, but after going on vacation for a whole week, the schedule died.
–Decided to do contests and post stories into books such as Chicken Soup for the Soul.

August:
–Sam, a boy I babysit for, wanted me to write The Babysitting Adventures of Rachel which is about the two of us. I never wrote it, although I had plans to.
–I thought a lot about my future. School, work, writing, etc. Wondered where I was going to be in a few years and how I was going to get there.
–Comet, my uncle’s dog, was put down due to cancer.
–I had a tough time writing so I wrote a silly prompt and it ended up sparking a few new ideas.
–We began to remodel Lisa’s bedroom so Kris and I could have an office. It is now complete and we call it the “Blue Room.” Don’t ask why, we planned on calling it our office.
–I finally got a new flash drive.
–I continued editing and outlining Hunter and began to write and outline Hunted, the sequel.
–My co-worker was laid off due to low enrollment leaving me with a promotion, but it was only me and one other teacher with all the kids.

September:
–Work started as me being a teacher and school started which was my first semester at a new school for my bachelor’s.
–Gloria, a member of my church, passed away.
–I asked for information about Smashwords and got a lot of nice feedback along with others. I still have to finish researching Smashwords, PubIt!, CreateSpace, and Kindle Direct Publishing.

October:
–I prepared for NaNo in November. I planned out the novel using sticky notes, index cards, and a big poster board with Kris.

November:
–I hit 50,000 words on Detective Florence for NaNo 17 days into the month. I am still currently working on the novel. I have a little over 70,000 words so far.

December:
–I won NaNo and I talked about focusing more on my writing
–I lost my teaching job. The preschool closed due to low enrollment and no money. I am still jobless.
–I survived my first semester for my bachelor degree.
–I got the new Pokemon games and a Kindle for Christmas!

So there you have it. A breakdown of everything that happened to me in 2013. But as I looked through my old blog posts I realized probably about 90% of everything I started was never finished. I know I say this all the time, but for 2014 I’m really going to buckle down and get something published. Or get something ready for publication. No more goofing off.

My resolution for 2013 was to read 50 pages a day and write 1,000 words a day. I stopped keeping track long ago, but I know I did not make the reading goal. I most likely didn’t make the writing goal, either. I doubt I wrote 365,000 words this past year. While there were some days I wrote 10k, there were so many other days that I didn’t bother to write at all.

My resolution this year is…

–Finish editing a novel or two
–Read more
–Freelance: Enter writing contests, send stories into magazines, etc.
–Finish what I start

That last one is for everything, not just my writing.

I hope everyone had a wonderful 2013 and I wish everyone the best in 2014! 🙂

Happy December!

Where Did The Year Go…

NaNo Winner 3

 

Well, it’s December first. I can’t remember anything that happened this year and we still have a month to go. Needless to say, November was a busy month, but it’s all a blur to me now. The first 17 days of November I wrote…a lot. And I won NaNoWriMo. I had planned on going above and beyond the 50k mark because I wanted to finish the entire manuscript. However, I think I got a little too tired from all that writing before. I hit about 52k and then stopped. But I got a nifty certificate to go with my Camp NaNo ones!

The best part is that Kris won NaNo, too. This was her very first year winning and last night she got home from working 8:30-5:30 and wrote about 5,000 words in order to hit the 50k. She finished around 10:30 at night, but she made it just in time! She and I are going Christmas shopping today. If we find anything we want, we may treat ourselves for winning.

In other news, I started a new project. Yeah, I know…I have too many writing projects going on at once. But I figured that for the month of December I can go back and forth between that one and Detective Florence. I’m hoping that I will be able to finish that novel by the end of the month so for my New Year’s resolution I can say I want it to be completely edited by the end of 2014. Heh, we’ll see what happens.

Anyway, this new project is a collection of silly poems for kids. Random? Totally. Friday night Kris was writing her NaNo novel and I didn’t feel like writing mine. I was in a bit of a hyped up mood and ended up writing a poem about a fat dog named Sit. I would post it to give you guys a sneak peek, but I submitted it to Chicken Soup. They have a new book coming out called “The Dog Did WHAT?”

Now I’m sure most of you have heard of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Most of you probably have a few of their books. The stories and poems submitted are non-fiction, heart-felt, inspirational. Some make you laugh, some make you cry. Kris thought this poem was so adorable that she begged me to submit it. I don’t think it will get published as it’s obvious that it’s a silly fictional poem. But like Kris said, “The worst they can do is say no.” So I sent it in anyway, but I highly doubt it will get published.

The deadline for entries for this particular book is January 5, 2014. So it’s going to be a while before I hear back (if I hear back at all…I don’t think they contact you if it’s a rejection). So I will post it eventually. But I’m also shooting to make a whole book of these poems and maybe get that published someday. I have four poems so far. Go me!

So I was going to post an excerpt of Detective Florence today, but since I never finished the full manuscript, I’m going to wait. When I finish the novel (hopefully by the end of the month) I’ll post an excerpt of it.

Congrats to all those who won NaNoWriMo this year! 🙂

And So It Goes On

To Be Continued…

 

As I mentioned in my last post, I won NaNo. Yay!

But I also mentioned that my novel is far from over. I may have hit 50k words, but I still have probably at least another 50k more words to write, if not more. I am writing a murder mystery, after all. This thing takes a lot of planning. I can only imagine what the editing process is going to be like…

Anyway, I continued to write this morning before work. I wrote 2,380 words. I didn’t want to stop at where I left off, but I do have to get ready for work in a few minutes. And I’m not going to have much time to write when I get home from work, either.

I’m glad that I’m still into my novel. I usually have the issue of not finishing what I start. Usually when I write a novel, I get other ideas for other novels and I tend to hop around between novels. I’m actually sticking with this one and I keep coming up with more ideas for it.

Then again, I never finished my outline for the novel and I already wrote everything that I had put onto my outline. So now I’m winging it. We’ll see how this goes.

Today’s Word Count: 2,380
Total Word Count: 52,610
Today’s Page Count: 7
Total Page Count: 167

More Than Halfway

30,000 Words…

 

Warning

 

 

Today was a fantastic, productive day for me! I wrote over 6,000 words on my NaNo novel and I got this week’s homework all done. The homework didn’t take me as long as I thought it was going to. Yes, it took me a few hours, but I probably would have been able to find time during the week to get it done before today. Then I would have had more time to write. Ah, well.

I didn’t plan on writing as much as I did today. But I learned a lot about my novel today and I think that’s why I kept on going. For example:

1. A few new characters were introduced. One of them being George’s brother and one being George’s former partner–I say “former” because George was laid off from the police department. Let’s keep in mind that George’s former partner, Detective Xavier Barron (this name was pulled out of my rear on account I was writing with the timer going), was never supposed to be in the story.
2. Speaking of Xavier, he is apparently now George’s rival. Every good protagonist needs a rival, right? Well, George has one now. Even though they used to be good friends and again, this was not planned…
3. Not only are the characters learning more about Lilah’s father, but I’m learning a lot more about Lilah’s father. This is good because Lilah’s father’s death is major plot point for the story.
4. Lilah’s elderly neighbor’s husband is deceased. The characters (and again, me) are learning a lot about him–his personality, his background, his death–when he’s not supposed to be a big deal in the story. In fact, this was how much he was not supposed to be in the novel: I didn’t come up with a name for him. But now that he apparently wants his story to be told…I still don’t have a name for me. I wasn’t able to pick a name off my back as easily as I was able to Xavier (and honestly, I think I only thought of that name because X-Men has been on my mind).

So there you have it. It’s the beginning of week two for NaNo and my characters have completely over-run the entire novel. Right on schedule. In other news, my left wrist is in pain. Even though it confuses me because it’s usually my right wrist, but again, right on schedule with week two.

Tomorrow is Sunday, which means I’m going to double-post. I’m going to update my progress and also post a tid-bit on my novel. Last Sunday I posted the summary for my NaNo novel, Detective Florence (Book One). Tomorrow I am going to post a character profile for my male protagonist, Detective George Florence. I hope you guys will look forward to that.

If you want more Writing Buddies, my NaNo profile is: Fiery_Sapphire and my sister Kris is: Winged_Spirit. We have very unique names (to say the least). 🙂

Today’s Word Count: 6,785
Total Word Count: 30,091
Today’s Page Count: 21
Total Page Count: 96

T.G.I.F.

Thank Goodness It’s Friday…

 

Keep Calm

 

 

Today is Friday. You guys have no idea how good that makes me feel! I am so exhausted from work, it’s not even funny. Tomorrow is going to be tough because I have to work on my bedroom and my office…the office is officially all set. Kris and I just need to organize it and such and the electrician is coming in next week to finally give us light in there. We’re painting our bedroom soon so we need to go through all our stuff and clean up so it’s less stuff to walk around while painting. Oh, and I guess I should work on some homework, huh? Fun stuff.

But Sunday will be good because I have church in the morning then Kris and I are going to go to Starbucks and spend the entire day writing. I’m hoping to get a lot done. I haven’t written much the past couple of days because I wrote at night instead of the morning. Kris and I worked on our office this morning while it was light out so we could see.

Then Monday is Veteran’s Day so I don’t have work. I again have the entire day to write and get other things done. Like homework…which may or may not happen. Who knows?

But today marks the first day of Week Two for NaNo. Yay! We all made it this far together! Pat yourself on the back if you’ve only gone slightly insane since the start of this thing.

For those of you who are behind, keep going! You still have time to catch up.
For those of you who are on par, great work!
For those of you who are ahead, fantastic!
For those of you who have already won, I hate you. No seriously, if you’ve already hit 50k, that’s wonderful and I applaud you for such speedy work. But I still envy you people for having so much time to write.

Today I ended up hitting my word count because I ended up adding onto a scene from the very beginning of the novel. I was a certain point where the main character needed to know this person very well and…he didn’t. So I needed to cheat and edit a little even though we’re technically not supposed to do that in NaNo. Shhh!

Anyway, we have three more weeks to go. We’ve lasted this long, I think we can stick it out if we really put our minds to it, don’t you think? But I feel like I’ve been doing NaNo for a lot longer than eight days, though…this is going to be a long month, isn’t it?

Today’s Word Count: 2,113
Total Word Count: 23,306
Today’s Page Count: 6
Total Page Count: 75