How I organize my WIP...
Today I thought we could talk about one of my favorite subjects... Organizing. A long, long time ago, I used to own my own cleaning/organizing business. I would get a tad giddy when my customers asked me to organize their storage areas. I know, weird right, but I loved it!
It seemed only natural to carry it over into my writing.I discovered that my brain is a lot like a messy storage area. When I first started writing, I feverishly flew by the seat of my pants and wrote what every sprang from my thick skull, throwing away half of what I wrote in revisions or plotting errors. Once I finished, I outlined my book into chapters/scenes until I had a tidy spreadsheet. But I still thought there has to be a better way.
Epiphany--- Why didn't I organize my writing like I organized a room. I knew where I wanted everything to go, I knew the last scene. I knew what each character thought. *Head Slap - Why didn't I think of this sooner. Backwards Outline. I did a google search, and of course I wasn't the first one to think of this. Here K.M. Weiland talks about just this thing! Why couldn't I be the first, darn it. But I sure would apply it!
So I set out on my quest, Okay, it wasn't much of a quest but it sure was fun.
- Know your ending - Get a general idea of how your story will end. For me this was easy. I already saw it in my head. Don't worry too much about getting it perfect, because in step 4 you'll be writing it out.
- Ask yourself questions - How did they get to this point? Which characters were involved? Who did what, to whom? What happened and why did it happen?
- Know your key players - For me, I had already written a few chapters, so I knew which characters I was going to use. But in the midst of it all, other characters emerged to help me get to the ending point.
- Write the last scene - Roughly write it out. Don't obsess about the detail at this point, just get the idea on paper.
- Next, OUTLINE. Start from the last scene and work your way backwards until you get to the very beginning of the story. For me that meant a post it note for each chapter.
- Switch it around, organize your outline from beginning to end, until it flows. Surprisingly, even my sub-plots supported the end.
- Now the exciting part... Write, Write, Write.
Will things stay the same as your original outline, probably not, but it does give you a broad-stroke plan to achieve your goal, a finished book.
Good luck and go forth and Write!