When I sat down to write my first novel “Always a Victim” I started from the beginning with a rough draft until I wrote every chapter with anywhere from 800 to 3,500 words each. In between writing chapters I’d read about outlining vs. a rough draft. I’d already written my rough draft which was a mess and scolded myself for not reading about outlines before I started. So I thought I have to edit this story regardless of where and how I started it so what the heck; I’d do an outline after the fact. This was my saving grace and by not outlining first was the best mistake I ever made. For me outlining turned into so much more than just listing what I want in each chapter and scene. It’s where I was able to put the details into each part moving me closer to my first draft; therefore outlining my story is my second step instead of my first.
Here’s how it worked for me. Once I finished my rough draft I had a friend edit it and provide their comments, which I saved if I thought a good point had been made. I found a wonderful writing tool called yWriter that is designed to aid in every phase of writing. Since my rough draft had been done and I set it aside for a month, it was time to get back to business and work toward my first draft. I took each chapter from my rough draft, copied and pasted it into the yWriter software and then created my outline where I broke each chapter down into scenes. For me, this provided a much more organized approach and I was able to see exactly how each chapter moved forward to the next, the relevancy of each scene to the entire story and that many scenes should actually be a whole new chapter. Once the scenes are set for each chapter, I’m able to detail how I want each scene to play out or what I want included so when I go back to it everything is summarized. Here’s what it looks like:
Scene: 1 Nate sulks at home and at work about Michelle. He knows he was out of line and a real ass and has serious doubts he’ll be able to fix it. Clarence has had enough of the act and tells Nate as much laying out before him exactly what he had and how he screwed it up and that he’d better fix it otherwise he’s a fool.
Scene: 2 Michelle returns home and tries to blow Nate off when he tries to make things right. In a rant of sorts she tells him she doesn’t have time to deal with his theatrics, spills her guts about everything she’d learned. She tells him that he has some nerve judging her when he needs to take a good look in the mirror. She reminds him how he uses his father’s disease as a crutch and an excuse to think he’s better than everyone else because he had to fend for himself when in fact he’s one of the weakest people she knows.
They both reveal their true feelings for one another but neither know how or if it’s possible to move past all that’s happened and build a life together.
Clearly this chapter is a pivotal point for the main characters and I wanted to make sure I detailed exactly what should be include. I’ve written each scene based on the summaries above. It’s organized and gives me a clear picture.
I know this approach may not work for everyone and it may seem redundant but I’ve found it’s a fantastic way to map out a story.
This software also allows the writer to set goals for each chapter, add notes and will produce a synopsis for review. It’s easy to use no matter what your writing methods are. Everything is easily edited or moved around from one chapter to another without losing your work.
I wanted to share my knowledge of a fantastic writing tool. I’m sure many already know about it; however, for me it’s new, exciting and exactly what I needed. As a new author I find the most difficult part of writing is keeping things in order. I found that I had to constantly go back and reread what I’d written to keep my facts straight and by the time I found what I was looking for I’d lose my train of thought. It’s been more than frustrating but I’m new at this so I suppose it’s to be expected.
yWriter is a fantastic tool for anyone considering becoming an author. I’m able to outline my novel scene by scene per chapter including tagging characters in each scene, location of scene, special notes I want to put in there for later on etc. So when I first open the program it lists the chapters that I’ve outlined so far and off to the side is a list of each scene in that chapter. If I click on the chapter itself a window opens that let’s me read the description I put in as well as what each scene includes. I’m able to go back to any given chapter and review what I wanted to accomplish which makes it a lot easier to keep track of the story so that it makes sense. The program also allows the author to input a timeline of goals to complete the outline, first, second and third drafts and then the final manuscript. This helps me stay on track and gives me the shove I sometimes need to get motivated.
The program also allows the actual content to be typed in so once you’re finished everything is in one place. There are reports you can create for a synopsis as well. I hope this helps some of new authors out there. It’s completely free so definitely give it a try.
I also want to thank fellows bloggers for stopping by and reading my posts. I’m new at this so I’m still trying to figure out a way to acknowledge everyone personally so please be patient with me. The fact that you took the time to stop by has given me such encouragement, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it!
Ok so my last post stated that I would try to incorporate some skills that I hoped to acquire while writing my first novel (first draft vs. second draft). I read about developing my characters, showing action instead of telling it etc. This sounded easy enough and even when I thought about it, I knew exactly what I was going to change and how I was going to do it.
So I get up early one day excited to start actually developing my story so readers will like it. With a hot cup of coffee in hand I sit at my desk, open my laptop and opened the file for my manuscript. I can feel the creative juices literally flowing through me. The pages appear before me and I freeze. All those ideas were gone. Where do I begin? What happens if I change the way one scene is written or even one little conversation? I started feeling slightly overwhelmed at the idea of having to go back and change other things so what did I do? I closed my laptop, walked away and thought some more. This did not make it better.
The entire process is overwhelming but the book isn’t going to write itself. Just like this blog isn’t going to write itself. I think the hardest obstacle for me is the fear of being rejected, putting my work out there after I’ve poured hours of energy into creating what I hope to be a satisfying reading experience for people to find out that no one likes it. All I can say is that when I do consider a certain chapter or scene complete it’s only after I’ve spent hours and hours going over it and know that it’s the best I can put out there.
Right now in this stage I have to get past the fear of not being able to please everyone. My stories may not appeal to the masses and not everyone is going to like what I write but I can’t let that stop me from pushing forward. This is what I love to do.
I’d love to hear your stories about writing and what you find is the most difficult part. Whether you’re a new writer or a pro, I think we can all offer some inspiration to others and help them get through.