Sunday, January 18, 2015

Organizing, plotting and planning your characters

I've been hard at work on Book Three of the Southern Grace Series. I have six chapters done and just as in my first two books, I'm constantly changing my outline as I write.

It's interesting to see how other authors plan scenarios for their plots and characters. One friend uses sticky notes all around her writing station. Another acquaintance uses an easel with a large poster board on it, drawing little squares with handwritten notes and connecting them with lines - much like a family tree would look. Someone else I know used to use random notebooks to jot down her inspirations, but she never could find them when she needed them (uh um... does it make you wonder who that could be?) That same author used Microsoft Word exclusively and saved her documents only on her hard drive. A crashed computer broke her from ever doing that again. Everyone has their own organizational method, but organization is my weakness. Thank heavens for Google Docs. My computer geek grandson introduced it to me at the same he was able to retrieve my lost documents and I've never looked back.

Google Docs is a free Web-based application in which documents and spreadsheets can be created, edited and stored online. Files can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection and a web browser. This had multiple benefits for me. You can work from home on a personal computer and since it's stored online you can work from any computer or smartphone anywhere you go. You can also give your editor access to it online allowing them to comment or even make corrections to it. You can write your chapters as separate documents or as one complete document and it can easily be converted to Microsoft Word when you're ready for publication. My favorite feature is that it has it's own version of sticky notes by simply using the comment section AND it saves your document immediately as you write it - no more forgetting to click "save" when you're closing up for the day. After losing about half my 1st book due to not saving and/or the computer crash, Google docs was a Godsend to me while writing my second.

And speaking of Google Docs version of sticky notes, I came across this today as I was gearing up to write. It will give you a general idea of how we writers worry over plot. Those of you who have read Lighting the Way will know what actually happened which may or may not be what I have in my notes - and I thought you might like to have some insight in how I got there. And also to see my kooky train of thought as I'm writing smile emoticon

1. How are you going to work in the house fire for the cottage and does Theo get hurt
2. Still can’t figure out how or if I should kill off Ernesto. What options do I have.
I can have him live and stir up a whole bunch of trouble in Park Place. Trouble can be useful! 

Or I could have him die - Maybe die on the sofa when Maria leaves. I could go in and add in that chapter where his co-worker drinking buddy has a key to the apartment and knocks - no answer and he goes in and finds him dead in his own vomit. Then: Police are looking for Maria - they don’t think she did it, but they want to question her. Jess Hamilton could find this out and be coming to talk to Maria about it when she runs away from the Christmas pageant and hides under the basement. Or if he lives, Ernesto himself shows up at the Christmas pageant and Maria tries to hide from him again. . What to do, what to do?"

If you're a writer, tell me how you stay organized. How do you keep track of your notes?

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