This week has been mostly editing. I also tried a neat outline technique; I'm sure other people have done similar things. But it's flexible, fast, and easy to use. If you organize in piles like I do, then this might be a good writing tool for you.
Please use it if you find it helpful. =D
Progress is on the book has been decent – all things considered. My Life Has Gone to the Dogs is entering the final phase of clean-up before submission to the publisher at Lulu. That has meant a lot of formatting and hair-pulling over here. Let's just say that Microsoft Word and I are not friends. Hidden menus and clumsy software design make me cranky.
On the bright side, the BeCrofty gang met with Gary this past weekend; he seemed very pleased with the illustrations so far. We've got a couple more small pictures to draw, which is the completion goal for this week. Norfrid and I shall keep you apprised.
I call this brainstorming/outline technique Confetti Plotting. You'll need a pen, a stack of index cards, sticky notes, or quarter sheets of scrap paper to get started. Basically, write down each scene or important fact to be established on a separate piece of paper. Try to keep each piece as brief as possible – only one or two sentences. For instance, “Julie and Carl fight in the park over their sandwich troubles.” or “Scene where Inspector Clueless finds the missing monkey statue.” Keep it as vague as necessary: “Explorers in extra-dimensional cheese-world awaken the wrath of Cthulhu.” Write down whatever scene comes to mind that might be fun to develop later. If there are important ramifications that arise from the event, they can be listed as bullets, but keep the scope of each paper limited to one scene only. Snapshots, rather than spaghetti, are the goal here.
Create as many of these random scenes as you like and put them in a pile. Don't worry about imposing any order yet, or even decide if the pieces are relevant to the story yet.
Go nuts. Jump all over the timeline. Include random tangents or other topics that might impact your characters or expand the world. Make it snow. Indulge your inner writer's monkey-mind. This is brainstorming, so it's liable to be chaotic. (I enjoy this part of the process the most, myself.)
When you've exhausted the useful ideas, take a moment to flip back through and find a few powerful core events. They will most likely be the exciting ones you're most eager to write about. They could become either the climax or the opening of the story. Then form sub-piles to play around with the order of the scenes. Keep in mind that flashbacks and backstory can help you establish details; chronological order may not always be the best logical or narrative choice.
As a final step, paperclip your piles together to make firmer outlines out of them later.
In the past, I've resisted the mandate to organize stories because it “spoils the suspense” for me. Once the details are ironed out, I know how the story ends. The drive to create and pursue the mystery simply evaporates. However, confetti plotting is sparse enough on details to preserve the excitement of the first draft for me. And doubtless there will be mistakes, omissions, and plot holes to sort out later – but that's called re-writing. Ain't nobody's found a workaround for re-writing. (Somehow I doubt there is one, but the dream never dies, you know?)
Oh, one more thing, Jackie Chan. Don't throw out any pieces you exclude from the current story. Who knows if it's the missing piece that will fix the next project?
Embrace the mess. Embrace the pile. ;D Happy writing!