Anatomy of a Summary (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 4)

Remember that literary plot we used to learn about all the time in elementary school? You know, we’d read a book in class and then we’d have to do some sort of project or essay about it. It often included summarizing what you read.

Well, apparently that’s more useful than we ever imagined. Who knew that we’d actually be using something we learned in school later on in life?

Anatomy of a Summary: NaNoWriMo 2016 prep

There are five parts of a novel:

1. Exposition
2. Rising action
3. Climax
4. Falling action
5. Resolution

Normally, we would summarize our novels after we’ve written them. That would make the most sense. But, if you’re a planner, this is a decent start.

Even if you’re a pantser, this is something good to have before or after you write your novel. It’s the bare minimum of details and it goes a long way when summarizing your novel.

What is the exposition?

The exposition is the beginning of the novel. Introduce the novel including the main characters, setting, and conflict.

What is the rising action?

The rising action is your protagonist attempting to solve the problem at hand. In most cases, they fail the first time or so.

What is the climax?

The climax is the turning point of the story. It’s the most suspenseful, it makes or breaks whatever your protagonist is going through.

What is the falling action?

Just like the rising action, the falling action is actions that happen after the climax. The rising action and falling action just help us get from point A to point B.

What is the resolution?

The resolution of the story is the conclusion. The problems are solved, everyone lives happily ever after… Or rocks fall and everyone dies. Do with that what you will.

As I stated earlier, this is something that you would typically do after your novel is complete. However, if you’re trying to outline and get a feel for what you want to happen, I think this is a great starting point.

If you’re a pantser, try this out anyway. You may have more information figured out than you realize. And that can help drive you from one point to the other when you start writing.

I remember I hated writing summaries when I was in school. I understand this literary plot to a point, but in the end it was always homework to me. Now that I’m older and I’m using it for my own creative writing, I’ve realized how helpful (and easy) it is.

How do you typically summarize your novels?

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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.

20150125_133655

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.

20150125_133733

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.

20150125_133743

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.

 

Outlining: Tips And Ideas

To outline or not to outline… that is the question.

Last week I wrote a post called, “Why Outline?” The title is pretty self-explanatory. Why should you outline your novel? I gave a list of a few (good) reasons, but ultimately the choice is yours whether you want to outline your novel or not. It’s no big deal if you decide not to.

However, if you do decide to outline your novel here are a few interesting ways to do so (if you don’t already have a particular way to outline).

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

The Snowflake Method: Show of hands: who has heard of this before? I have, but have I ever used it? No. I had to do a bit of research for this one because I didn’t really know what it’s about. Basically, it’s a 10-step process on how to organize your writing. You start from a small summary of the novel and go from there. The last step is to begin your first draft.

Now I know it seems like a lot of steps just to go from idea to first draft, but the idea behind it is to start small and take baby steps in organizing your mind and thoughts.

This is to ensure you don’t miss anything while you write the story. All the scenes will be laid out for you, all the characters will be unique and have a certain purpose, and (hopefully) there will be no plot holes.

Does this mean you won’t have to do any editing when the first draft is done? Of course not.

That would be too easy.

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

The Skeletal Outline: You know that pyramid thing you learn in elementary/middle school? Well, some people actually put that to good use when they write their novels.

They use this pyramid (plot diagram, according to the picture) to summarize each part. Each part being the exposition, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution. By summarizing, you write certain scenes you want, describe what the characters are going to do and what’s going to happen to them, etc.

Some people use bullet points to highlight key concepts in each part. Personally, I think the bullet points would be easier. Then again, it wouldn’t be as detailed… unless you use a lot of bullet points.

Like the Snowflake Method, I do not use this method. To be honest, I don’t even think of my novels in terms of exposition, rising/falling action, climax, resolution, what have you. I just kind of go with the flow and write the scenes in order as they would go.

However, if I had to choose between these two methods, I think I would go for the skeletal outline. I enjoy making lists and the pyramid seems to do just that. Then again, I’m sure you could modify each method to make a unique one that works specifically for you.

20150124_151016Chapter Summary: This is how I used to outline. Way back when I wrote fan fiction. 11 years ago. Wow.

Anyway, I have no idea if anyone has ever outlined like this before, but it worked for me way back when. I don’t use that way now, but I still think it’s a decent way to outline your novel.

All I did was summarize each chapter. It’s that simple. As you can see from the picture, it ultimately looks like a block of letters (especially with my handwriting). The highlighted parts show a new chapter. Everything written after each highlight is a summary of that chapter.

I explain what scenes are going to be in the chapter, sometimes I add in some dialogue I would like some characters to say… I even have notes that say things such as: “foreshadowing… yay!” You know, so I remember how to write my plot so readers can figure out the foreshadowing, symbolism, and all that fun stuff. I especially make those notes when I realize I foreshadowed without meaning to. It’s like your subconscious is smarter than you.

There you have it. Three different ways to outline your novel, plus more (if you click on the links below). Two I’ve never used and one I used to use all the time. Everyone works differently and at their own pace. So the outlines listed above may or may not work for you; especially if outlining isn’t even your thing. However, it never hurts to try.

As stated before (many times, actually) I use my own method I made up. Well, I thought I made it up, but I have seen it floating around on the Internet. It’d be pretty cool if I had my own method, though. It’s different, but similar to the chapter summary I used to do.

But more on that tomorrow.

Further Reading:

The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel
8 Ways to Outline a Novel
7 Steps to Creating a Flexible Outline for Any Story

Book Review: Deathly Hallows

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Harry is waiting in Privet Drive. The Order of the Phoenix is coming to escort him safely away without Voldemort and his supporters knowing – if they can. But what will Harry do then? How can he fulfill the momentous and seemingly impossible task that Professor Dumbledore has left him?
The epic finale to an epic series.

I can’t begin to explain the amount of feels I have for this book; for this series. I am way behind on the times when it comes to reading this series and finally read it because I needed to read it for school. I read the first six books within a couple of months, but it took me a little while to read the last one.

I think maybe it was because I knew how it ended (according to the movie) and I didn’t want it to end. There are so many things in the books that did not happen in the movies, the books made me appreciate the Harry Potter world so much more. I don’t know why I have never read the books before.

However, I finally decided to read the last novel and I cried through half of it. Most were sad tears with a few characters dying, but some were happy tears.

Overall, I am satisfied with the ending of the novel, but like many others, I want more. I’m sad that the series ended and despite how different the movies are, I just want to sit on the couch all day and marathon all eight movies.

Favorite Quote:

“‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?'” –Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Book Review: Walt Disney

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Walt Disney is an American hero–the creator of Mickey Mouse, and a man who changed the face of American culture. After years of research, with the full cooperation of the Disney family and access to private papers and letters, Bob Thomas produced the definitive biography of the man behind the legend–the unschooled cartoonist from Kansas City who went bankrupt on his first movie venture but became the genius who produced unmatched works of animation. Complete with a rare collection of photographs, Bob Thomas’ biography is a fascinating and inspirational work that captures the spirit of Walt Disney.

I bought this book when l found a cute store called The Writers Stop at Disney. I discovered a lot of brand new things about Walt Disney down there so l decided to buy his biography to learn some more.

Recently, l watched the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” with my sister and parents and that got me in the mood to finally read the biography.

The book is 360 pages and it’s very detailed. Bob Thomas, the author, did a great job explaining Walt Disney’s life. Apparently the author has written many other biographies. So even if Walt Disney isn’t your kind of guy, l would look up who else Bob Thomas wrote about.

Favorite Quote:

“Imagination is an intuitive thing; I think it’s something you’re born with. But it has to be developed.” –Walt Disney, from “Walt Disney: An American Original”

Book Review: The Reason I Jump

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.

Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.

In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.

This book is a quick read of being a mere 135 pages. I read it in just a couple of hours. The topic is gentle, but can be sensitive to some. Being a special education teacher this book jumped out at me when I first heard of it. My co-worker actually recommended it to me. My sister, also a special education teacher, was the one who gave it to me not knowing I wanted it.

Told through an “interview” style, the reader gets a good insight on what it’s like to be autistic. Naoki Higashida explains to us how difficult it is to be autistic and how confusing it is. However, he also explains the good things about being autistic as well. “Normal” people just don’t see the world the same way an autistic person does.

It explained a lot to me because I could relate most of the questions to the kids at my work. For example, why do they spin so much? Or, why are they so fascinated with numbers? If you want to know the answers, I suggest you read the book. It’s very informative.

Favorite Quote:

“To give the short version, I’ve learned that every human being, with or without disabilities, needs to strive to do their best, and by striving for happiness you will arrive at happiness.” –Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2014

Camp NaNo

 

I have been anticipating this day since the first day of March. I told myself I was going to edit a novel during the month of March and I did! Hunter is in the process of being re-typed as a second draft. So, that’s that.

I wanted to have plenty of time to plan for Camp NaNoWriMo. I knew what novel I wanted to write, but I didn’t have it planned out. I literally finished editing Hunter on March 30. Then I spent all day yesterday (March 31) doing homework. I worked until 2:30 then got the majority of this week’s homework done because I wanted the first week of Camp to be a productive one.

Would you like to know something sad, though? I went into work yesterday and they asked me, “Are you available every day this week and next week?” I said yes because I need the money, but of course it would happen during NaNo…not to mention this month I have my cousin’s birthday, my father’s birthday, Easter, planning for my sister’s upcoming wedding, homework, and now work on top of it. But, it’ll be good to practice my time-managing skills.

Anyway, I’m writing Diary of a Killer for Camp. I’m sure most of you know I have a completed novel called Diary of a Lover. No, this is not a sequel. It’s a complete different set of characters in a different setting. The only similarity is the title because they are both written in “diary” format. Each chapter is a new diary entry. Oh, they have psychology in common, as well. Of course, I know nothing of psychology so a lot of research will be required, so…this will be fun.

I didn’t get a chance to plan it so when I started writing after work today all I had was the title and that was it. I didn’t even have the protagonist’s name…I didn’t even know the gender. In case you’re all wondering, it’s a boy! Yay, congratulations! As I wrote the first chapter, I started coming up with ideas for the novel, so I’m hoping everything will work out. I’m also summarizing each chapter as I write them to help keep the plot in line as well as for when I finally edit it. Hopefully that will do some good when I research things, too.

I will post a summary soon…ish. I have to actually write one first. 😉

For all of you doing NaNo, good luck! And I hope you reached above and beyond the word goal (I got 2,002 words today). If you guys are participating, feel free to add me as a buddy on NaNo (Fiery_Sapphire) and also let me know your word count and what you’re writing. I’m very interested! 🙂

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! 🙂

Day 15

Pep Talk…

The first game.
The first game.

 

Well, it’s day 15 of 30 for NaNoWriMo. We are wrapping up the end of week two and this day also marks halfway through the month. So, let’s talk about our novels some more to celebrate making it through the first half of the month.

What inspired your novel?

For me, this is an easy answer. I don’t usually know where my ideas come from. I tend to come up with title ideas and spin plots based off of the titles. However, I came up with this novel idea a long time ago, but it was completely different from what I’m making it be now.

My novel is called Detective Florence (Book One). It’s a mystery where Detective Florence gets laid off from the police department and starts up his own private detective agency. The daughter of his late partner gives him his first case with a robbery. But it soon turns into more than he bargained for when a dead body turns up.

I have never written a mystery before and I’ve never been too much into police work, detectives, all the law stuff. But a few years, my sister and I were on the shopping channel on the Wii Nintendo system and we came across a game called Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. We bought it for the Wii Ware and decided to try it out. We fell in love with the game!

Coming from the couple of writers, we fell in love with more than just the game–the different plots from the cases, the characters, the dialogue, everything. Of course, we bought the third game not knowing there were too others before, but it was still playable. Some of the characters made more sense to us once we bought the first and second games and played those.

There are three Phoenix Wright games, two Miles Edgeworth games (except only one was released in the US), one Apollo Justice game, and they just came out with the fifth game called Dual Destinies. Kris and I are in the middle of playing that one now.

So my novel is based off of a video game and I’m having a pretty good time with it.

What inspired your novel?

Day 10

20 More Days…

 

Write

 

I didn’t write as much as I wanted to do today. So I’m glad I got a lot of words in yesterday. Today was still pretty productive, though. I got to hang out with my two sisters and future brother-in-law, so I can’t complain.

Today marks day ten of NaNo. We have 20 more days to go. I hope everyone is doing fantastic on their novels!

As promised, because today is Sunday, I added something new about my NaNo novel, Detective Florence. It’s the character profile for my male protagonist, Detective George Florence. Read it and hopefully you’ll fall in love with him just as I have. I’m also hoping that it will coax you into wanting to read the novel (whenever it’s finished, edited, and published, that is…).

So as I writing today, I realized something…there have been a few years when I’ve tried to write more than one novel for NaNo. Or tried to get to 100k in one or two novels for NaNo. I have about 16k left to write and I feel like I haven’t made a dent in the plot, yet for my novel.

Sure, the plot is moving. But it’s a murder mystery. There’s a lot of things going on. So many questions that need to be answered by the end of the book, but my characters are the ones who need to find the answers so the readers can figure it out, as well. At the pace I’m moving with my word count, it makes me wonder if (without trying this time) I will in fact hit 100k. Or maybe I’m just over thinking things.

But as I said, there are 20 days left. I guess a lot can happen in these next few weeks. Anything can happen.

If you want more Writing Buddies on NaNo, feel free to add me, Fiery_Sapphire, or my sister Kris, Winged_Spirit.

Today’s Word Count: 3,560
Total Word Count: 33,651
Today’s Page Count: 11
Total Page Count: 107