The past few weeks, I’ve been working on my second “real” novel, and it hit me this morning that I’ve finally figured out how to organize my work in the first draft stage so I can keep track of what I’m doing. Because organization can be a key element of being an efficient writer, I thought I’d share my system in case some other writer might find it useful. I think the easiest way to explain my system is to paint a picture of it for you, so I took a screenshot of the first page of my actual document:
And now, I will explain what I have done:
First, I am using the heading system that is built into Word. So I don’t forget what I am using each heading for, I created a little cheat sheet at the top to use as a reminder. My chapter heads are Heading 1; notes sections are Heading 2; and scene fragments are Heading 3. Once I had typed up three or four different sections, I inserted an automatic table of contents on the first page. I then go back and update this table at the end of each writing session so I always have an up-to-date roadmap of my document and never have to worry about getting lost among all those words. (more…)
My notes on my new novel have reached 12 pages and 6,500 words. I have come up with a focal point to build my story around. The more I think about it, the more convoluted the story becomes. I think it’s time to start writing!
I seem to have also discovered my main writing genre, despite the fact that there are other genres I would like to write in. The book I originally planned to write next was adult fiction with a little bit of magic and fantasy thrown in. It was going to be dark, and in many ways, devious. I still really want to write that book. However, it seems to make more sense in this moment to maintain the momentum I have built with Valley of the Bees and stick with future-fantastic dystopia.
I also can’t ignore the fact that this new novel is demanding to take center stage at the moment! (more…)
My new novel has topped 3,500 words of notes as I freewrite and brainstorm my way into an outline. I had a moment today when a sudden realization about what my novel is really about struck me. A shiver ran down my spine as I realized the possible implications of the totally subversive idea that emerged from the murky depths of my subconscious mind.
“This is big,” I thought.
And then, “This is probably going to piss a lot of people off.”
Not literally, but I was thinking it.
As I typed out the details of my idea, another idea struck me. By “struck me,” what I mean is that it wacked me upside the head like a baseball bat. (more…)
As I run down the final stretch of publishing Valley of the Bees, I am itching to get started on my next novel. I don’t want to waste all of this momentum I have built while writing my last novel. After all, gathering and maintaining momentum seems to be half the battle of writing!
My first problem was what to write. Luckily, I had plenty of ideas. I just couldn’t seem to choose one. I was ready to write one novel one day and a completely different story the next. When I finally settled on an idea that held my attention for more than a couple of days, I thought the battle had been won. A vibrant story world has taken shape in my mind, and my main cast of characters is coming to life.
Then I realized: I have no plot! (more…)
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to do over this next month to prepare. My writing plans for October include: (more…)
It’s official! I just set up my novel, With Envy Stung: Valley of the Bees #1 for pre-order on Smashwords! I completed the first draft of the third and final book of this trilogy, and I finally feel confident that Book One will be ready for publication by its September 1st release date!
This is such a huge milestone for me. I have been working on this trilogy for about three years now. With Envy Stung has been critiqued and revised until I can’t imagine what else I might possibly do to make it shine any brighter. That is, until I sit down to read through it again and find a few more lines that I could write *just a little bit better.*
Update: I now have direct links where you can pre-order your copy of With Envy Stung: Valley of the Bees #1 from the retailer of your choice:
As with any work in progress, I will probably always be able to find something else that I could tweak a bit more. But, as with any other work in progress, the time always comes when it’s time for the author to let it go as it is. I feel confident that With Envy Stung has reached that stage in the writing process. The time has finally come to complete my final line edits and format the book for publishing! (more…)
I don’t remember having this much trouble writing the outlines for books one and two. I’ve made a list of all of the loose ends that need tied up, and now I am trying to figure out how to tie them together. It’s getting very complicated!
I thought I was ready to publish book one, but as I play with all of these loose ends, I think maybe I’m not ready after all. What if I need something to happen in book three that won’t work due to something I wrote in book one? I won’t be able to go back and revise it once it’s published!
Maybe I need to at least have a first draft of book three before I publish book one. I want to start my pre-launch of book one, but what if I don’t have it ready in time? What if I think it’s done, but it’s not? I have thought it was done many times throughout the process, only to find that it still needed more work.
What if, what if, what if? Sometimes – a lot of times – writing is just a whole lot of “what ifs!” (more…)
One of the most important lessons I have learned about novel writing is that the worst thing you can do when you’re stuck is to sit and stare at a flashing cursor on a blank page. In my experience, when I have done this in the past, the longer I stared at that cursor, the more stuck I became. Instead, I have learned that the only way to get unstuck is to write through it.
This may sound like a crazy idea.
“I’m stuck,” you’re thinking. “How do I write through it when I can’t think of anything to write?” (more…)
I struggle to set up each new chapter in my novel. I want to jump right into the dialog and action and keep the story moving along. While writing the first installment of Valley of the Bees, I did just that. I wrote the story in the throes of momentum and didn’t slow down for anything as uninteresting as setting up my chapters properly. When all was said and done, my story came out to around 25,000 words and was in desperate need of transitional material between chapters. Imagine how I felt when I realized that I was going to have to sit down and write all of that boring stuff at once.
Lesson learned. (more…)
I always plan to write over winter break, but somehow it never happens. I work at a University that closes for almost two whole weeks the end of December. Perfect time to get some writing done, right? Apparently not!
So then January came along, and I buckled in and started writing regularly. I have been scheduling it into my day, but not giving myself too much grief if I occasionally get off track. And I must say, it has been going pretty well for me. I am writing at least three days a week (while working a full-time job and single-momming two rowdy boys in the process) and hacking out the first draft of book two of my Valley of the Bees series a few pages (and sometimes a few sentences) at a time.
My goal was 20,000 words by the end of January. Of course, that didn’t happen, but I did get close. And today – three days into February – I ALMOST made it finally. Of course, I typed the final word of the chapter I was working on, looked down at my word count, and saw this:
Of course! I was one word shy of my goal! Seriously? (more…)