When I wrote my first manuscript, I just sat down and wrote. Since then, however, it’s been more difficult. I thought I could write by the seat-of-my-pants, but I can’t. Time after time, things didn’t work out. Details get confused or lost, and then I realize I have no idea where the plot is going.
Over the years I continued to write for the local paper, but my novel stalled. Too many months later, I finally figured it out why I could write articles but not my novel – outlines. I never write an article without first outlining my plan. It helps me organize my thoughts and find information gaps. It’s successfully helped me compose over 250 articles. So, why wasn’t I outlining my novel?
After two unsuccessful attempts at a particular manuscript (and roughly 90,000 discarded words), I decided to outline the novel. I had to modify it a bit from my normal outline (I obviously couldn’t squeeze it onto one page), but I needed something on paper to help my organize and find gaps.
I used a notebook and dedicated one page to each chapter. Each page listed the following information:
– Chapter POV
– Time/Day of the scene
– Goal of the scene
– Character’s motivation
– Scene outline
Author Deb Raney created a story board for her novel, Over the Waters. Here’s what she said about it:
For Over the Waters, set in Haiti, I made a poster on regular poster board. Each morning I’d prop the poster up on my desk, then put it away when I was finished writing for the day (that kept it from becoming “invisible” to me after a while, and was a nice transition into my writing time each day: when the poster went up, it was time to write!)
Raney used a different technique for Above All Things:
For Above All Things I created my idea board using Scrivener software. I then made a screenshot that became my desktop image––a virtual bulletin board:
Most recently, I’ve used a screensaver folder that continually scrolls images from my setting, photos of my characters, my character’s home interiors and automobiles, anything that helps me stay “in the zone” once I start writing.
These are just a few examples of how to visualize your story. What about you – what are your techniques?