Just like Juliana Rose, many writers (including myself) attempt to find ways to better organize their story ideas. When I started my first novel, my method of planning was pantsing. I figured I could take the story as it popped out in my head and everything would turn out great.
I completed the first draft, which was a wonderful accomplishment, but editing was a nightmare (one of the reasons I shelved it). For example, I’d referenced events and people late in the story without mentioning them earlier. A reader would definitely be confused. Plus it’s harder to keep track of all the details without noting them somewhere or rereading tons of pages.
So I decided to roll with a modified outline as my planning method. Instead of bullet points and lists, I write Chapter 1 and place a check box in front of it. Then I create a summation of the chapter. Usually 2 or 3 sentences, but could be a fuller paragraph. Below is an example.
[X] Chapter 1 – Mary, a shepherd’s daughter, becomes attached to one of the lambs in her father’s flock. She’s the only one who can make his wool as white as snow. Because of this, Mary is approached by a laundry detergent company to appear in ads. While Mary is excited about the opportunity, she fears leaving her country roots behind.
[ ] Chapter 2 – Mary talks to her father about the job. He encourages her to go for it.
[ ] Chapter 3 – Mary does the commercial, but the lamb won’t cooperate. They are at odds because she is fired.
As I complete each chapter, I check it off and move on to the next. Using this method helps me with plot holes, ensuring story flow, and helps with tasks like book blurbs, etc. It’s also a good way to make sure you meet the goal of the chapter.
Before you plan, you have to make a plan for planning. Whew.
I’m going to be honest: none of these have worked well for me. In my next post I’ll explain what I actually do, but I want to talk briefly about these planning methods because everybody’s different, and maybe for you they’re just the thing.
The snowball method: Basically you start off with a good, one-sentence summary of what your novel is about. Then you expand it into a paragraph, then two paragraphs, and you get the idea.
Why it doesn’t work for me: I need things in order. This is less about planning, and more about writing and getting started. This method doesn’t have enough planning for me, and I have the problem of tying my own plot in knots and getting stuck without knowing where to go. Basically, with this method I still feel like…
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