A new writing journey
Each book I write is an entirely new and different journey. I can’t quite figure out why or how, but just like every child needs to be taught differently, each book needs to be approached and written in a different way. Some books I just outline and write. Some I need to create a chart for my wall — a big W graph. One book I used 3×5 cards that worked out really well. Here’s what they looked like:
I include the major things I need to know: Goal, Conflict, Turning Point, the purpose of the scene (mine) and a quick descriptions of what happens. Oh, and the blue line at the top tells me that this scene is in my hero’s point of view. I’ll color the cards from my heroine’s point of view red.
Sometimes I’ll include a sequel card which wouldn’t be a full scene, but a shorter follow-up scene from another character’s point of view. For example, in this first scene, the hero is nearly run down by the heroine as she riding in a race. We get the main part of the scene from the hero’s pov, but after he exits the scene, I’ve got a quick sequel from the heroine’s point of view where I can give her impression of the encounter. On my sequel card I’ll include just the basics of a sequel: Reaction, Dilemma, Decision.
In the book I’ve just started, My Gentleman Thief, I’m finding Scrivener to be what I what I need to organize my book, and even (for the first time ever) possibly to write it in.
I love the virtual bulletin board in Scrivener. I can create virtual 3×5 cards, fill them in any way I want — with my key points to which I’ve added a few (I’ll tell you about that in a second), or just a brief description of the scene. I might even do a combination, writing the brief description of each scene now and then filling in the details of the key points later just before I write the scene.
Those details, key points? Here’s what I’m using now, for this book:
- Turning Point
- Why this matters given protag’s internal goal or misbelief
- Therefore (what must happen next)
I printed out my scene worksheets that I used in my last book — here’s a link to it if you want to give it a try–to which I added those last two key points. It worked really well and I ended up with a notebook filled with these worksheets which I filled out just before writing each scene. For this book, I haven’t yet decided whether I want the worksheets or if I’ll just stick with my virtual 3×5 cards in Scrivener.
Scrivener is also great because if you write your scene in it, it’ll track the number of words you’ve written. I find this to be a great motivator. I give myself a pat on the back if I manage to write more than 1000 words a day. I’ll also know if a scene is just too short and therefore needs to be worked on some more (I’m having that problem just now with the very first scene of the book). This is a typical problem for me–I write too short, too tight and without enough descriptions. Knowing how many words long a scene is tells me that I’ve got to go back and work on those descriptions, some five senses and maybe add how the character is feeling. Those are all really good ways for me to flesh a scene out after I written the bare-bones action and dialogue. If you have a tendency to write long, keeping track of how long each scene is will help when you need to go back through and trim things down as well.
The other neat thing about Scrivener, which I’ve just discovered is that if you’re at the virtual bulletin board and tell it to print, it will print out a really nice page with three “cards” per page, including the color tags that you’ve added. Here is the first page of my current outline:
You can see that I’ve numbered my scenes (on the left) and added more detail (since there was so much space on the page) and well as noting how many words long each scene is currently.
Am I an organization freak? Possibly… 🙂 But I do find that all of this will ultimately help me write my book. I’m really hoping that having all of my scenes right there in front of me in Scrivener will allow me to speed right through the writing. It’s all planned out. It’s all right there. No searching for papers, no wondering what I’m going to write next. So let’s hope that this book flows from my fingers and gets finished fast. I love writing a good story, but writing it quickly is really satisfying. If I can get into this world, into the heads of these characters, I’m hoping that I can have this book done and published this Fall.
So people, what’s your favorite way to organize your book? Do you love Scrivener? Hate it? Find it useless? Are you into 3×5 cards? How is this book that you’re writing now treating you?