Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Outlining The New Novel

I've been working really hard on my new book. I now have over 150 pages and about 35,000 words. I kind of hit a wall the other day. I just kept writing and writing and then had the book, but knew there were a lot of holes in it.

I've never outlined before. I've tried many times and failed, but fellow agent sister Lisa Nowak encouraged me to try it. She has a great post on her site about outlining, and I encourage you to follow it.

I took Lisa's advice and started to outline my book.

First, I printed out the entire thing. I write in short scenes (I've never used chapters), so I spread them out and shifted them around until I got them into the form I wanted to. I spread these out all over my guest room bed.


My guest room is also where I blow dry my hair. In the summer it gets hot in the room, so I turn on the ceiling fan. Uhm, yeah...it took about ten seconds for me to realize that you don't turn the fan on when you have the scenes of your book all over!


A quick fix of grabbing some towels/scarves allowed me to dry my hair and then categorize my scenes.

After that I typed summaries up and printed them out. These summaries went onto index cards that were organized into plots/subplots (yay to Lisa for that idea!).


I have since written notes on the back of these summaries for things I wanted to change and added index cards for scenes I want to write. It's worked so well for me. I'm able to keep track of changes and work on plotting out new scenes. I figure once I actually write those scenes, I will summarize them, type them up and tape them onto a final note card to add to my pile. In the meantime, I look at everything hand written as work that needs to be done.

Not a bad method, huh?!

What about you? How do you organize your writing?

15 comments:

Nomes (inkcrush) said...

whoah, that's super impressive.

i fail at outlines and it's become a huge stumbling block for me.

i like this idea though (and i visited your mates link, too). I might have a go later on this week.

Amanda Hannah said...

I've used several other methods before and could never make it work, but I'm definitely going to try this. Thanks for the link :)

Matthew Rush said...

I read an interview with Philip Pullman in which he described doing something very similar with post it notes! He said it worked great for rearranging scenes.

I do outline ahead of time a little but I am not nearly this organized. Go Rachele!

Christina Lee said...

Um...WOW, I am impressed. I am not sure if you could get me to be that organized! ;--) I realize now you are on vacay. I hope you are enjoying yourself!

Meredith said...

That's an intense method of outlining! I tend to try to organize everything on the computer, but I often get frustrated because I lose track of things. Maybe your way is something I should try :) Hope it goes well!

Kristan said...

Ditto what Meredith said, and HAHAHAHA about turning on the fan. You silly goose!

Melissa Gill said...

Wow, very organized. I'll have to try this.

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

Wow! Lots of work. Glad it worked out. I wish I could lay out all my work but my kids would scatter everything in an instant by jumping on the bed or assuming the index cards were puzzle pieces or possibly lunch. LOL. I love your blog layout by the way it sparkles galore!

www.a-pen-in-neverland.blogspot.com

Bronwyn Scott-McCharen said...

I outline and make notes, but in a really disorganized way. I just have one running Word document with all of my notes/outlines/etc for the novel in it entitled "notes for (name of novel)"

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Wow! So this was a method for working through a block about 30,000 words into the novel? What a cool idea! I might have to give this a try!

I know where I am now in the plot and I know where I want to end. It's the gap in the middle that's giving me trouble. Maybe this would work!

I like the visual aspect of it!

Lisa Nowak said...

Thank Rachele! I feel so powerful, now that I've converted you to outlining. Bwahahahaha! Your comment about the fan cracked me up. I am so much the same way. With those tiny important details I act first, think later. Even when I figure I've been smart and covered all my bases.

For those of you who do it on the computer and get confused, that's exactly the reason I started printing stuff out and putting it on cards. You can get easily get lost scrolling through even a 10-12 page Word document. The first time I wrote everything by hand, but this time I put my typed ideas into 2 columns in Word then printed the doc out, cut up the scenes, and pasted to the cards.

Vicki Rocho said...

WOW. I did try notecards when I was kinda feeling cornered the other night, but I'm not terribly organized with them yet. They're in order, but there are some scenes packed tight and others with big gaps. Sigh...as long as I keep moving forward I'll get there!

salarsenッ said...

Honestly, I do something very similar to this. Once my index cards are written up, I then head over to my 'story board' and start tacking them up. That helps me, too.

Elana Johnson said...

Okay, now I'm freaking out a little. I don't do anything like this, and the thought of it makes me ill. I want to do this, I really do. I'm not sure I can...

Julie Musil said...

I like this idea, but I only have a vague idea of where I'm going. I've been using the "headlights" method by James Scott Bell, where you write notes based on what's in your immediate view. Not sure how this will go!