Sunday, February 24, 2013

Things I've Learned

My journey as a writer started a short 3 years ago when a friend taught me that writers aren't superheroes, but real people just like me. That was the 1st time I really considered taking the crazy story ideas I'd come up with in my dreams and shaping them into a novel of my own. 

Not having a creative writing education, I had no idea where to start. So I took the standard 5 paragraph structure used in writing my term papers in college for my political science degree (you know what I'm talking about: the introductory 1st paragraph that includes the thesis statement, followed by the middle 3 paragraph body, and ending with the last paragraph conclusion) and began writing my first novel.

Go ahead and laugh, you know you want to. *sheepish grin*

I knew no other way. It never occurred to me that they have manuals that tell you all about plotting a novel at the bookstore. *shrug* I'm sure you won't be surprised to find out that about 150 pages in, I got lost. I mean, I knew where I wanted my story to end, but things like story arc and multi-POVs bogged me down. So I started looking for help. Now, almost 3 years and several re-writes later, I have a collection of items I will never again attempt to writer a novel without. They are:

1) Timeline- documenting events from well before my book begins all the way through the end of the trilogy I have planned.  Go HERE to download a free timeline template from Microsoft.

2) Outline- very detailed for each plot line, character, and each of the three books

3) Character Sketch- detailing everything from hair color to odd mannerisms or habits for my character

4) Setting Sketch- detailing each of the different countries and cities in my novel

5) Map- detailing my entire made up world. There isn't a moutnain or a tree that doesn't have its place.

6) List of Terms- if you have a made up language of any sort, even if you don't get too detailed with it, you really need this one. It is easy to forget and contradict yourself without this to refer back to.

7) List of Characters- not only does this act as a quick reference guide, but it also keeps you aware of the astronomical number of characters you can create if not careful, especially when writing an epic fantasy.

If there is something on this list you haven't considered using, I would challenge you to give it a try. It can make your life so much easier and better organized. I know it has mine. I am hoping that with these at my disposal, the next novel won't take me so long to write. (Not holding my breath, though. I am not known for brevity.) *blushes*

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you use these 7 items in your writing? Which do you not use and why?

Do these make anyone else laugh? You can buy them HERE...I may or may not have my own box on the way!! *cheesy grin*


Samantha May said...

I use all of them except the language list, mostly because I haven't made up one yet :)

I didn't know any other way other than the five paragraph format too, so I definitely used those self help books :D

ejwforeman said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I honestly couldn't imagine sky diving, you're a brave, brave woman!!! I wish I had some feedback to offer you on how I write my own novels, but I just write to write. However, it seems like you've come a long way from where you started. My father just finished his first novel and I know he went through some of that same stuff. Good

ejwforeman said...

It's supposed to say Good Luck!!!

David P. King said...

I need some of those bandaides.

You pretty much described my process for preparing a book. :)

Jay Noel said...

I'm a recovering pantster. Now I write with Scrivener - which has all of those tools (and more) all on one screen. It's amazing.

Mark Koopmans said...


I don't use any of these tools - yet - but I'm saving this email for when I begin WIP#2 :)

Thanks for sharing - and yes I did a little happy dance when I won that award :)

Erin York said...

I've got to argue...You are a superhero. :)

Tara Tyler said...

yay for plotting! great list! i cant live without that stuff too!