Organizing writing tips

The last writer’s meeting comprised of the topics of organizing our writing. This included time and the novel itself. Being we’re a talkative group, we never did cover too much in the way of organizing the story, so I felt I would post the ideas here for everyone;

  • Stories start with the conflict. Throwing readers into the fray carries them along a plot of adventure and intrigue. Back story and prologues are thrown out in favor of immediate problems characters need to face. Whatever backstory will unfold through the chapters.
  • Include at least two conflicts; One main conflict the character faces, but also something internal they process through the storyline. Some stories include a number of mini-quests or issues that need resolved, and not just for the main character. Even the villains may grow through the story.
  • There are a number of methods used to physically order a story;
    • Chapter by chapter– this is my method that I prefer, which allows me to jot down notes and work on chapters broken up in scenes. Each MS Document is a chapter, but I have a separate document to refer to my notes. I love the Chapter-By-Chapter program (free) that does this for me.
    • Outline form– many authors use this method as well, to put down ideas then tag ideas with notes and snippets of ideas.
    • Snowflake method– much like mindmapping, you start with either the character or the conflict, and move out in branches to thicken the plot.
    • Three Act Structure– includes Beginning, Middle, and End, with the climax taking place at beginning of the End. http://www.musik-therapie.at/PederHill/Structure&Plot.htm
    • Index cards– provides a hands-on method to seeing your plot line in color coded glory. Post it notes could also work. Check out this article on this method.
  • Know the parts of compelling plots. Its more than just conflict finding resolution. Its about believable characters, themes, and well written description. Its a storyline that tugs the reader along, wrapping them up in other worlds involving people and places.

Organizing time certainly brought a number of concerns from my fellow writers, being many were stay at home mothers. How does one find the time to work between feedings, cleaning, naps, and the chaos?

  • Write during naps. This might take valuable resting time for you, however, so use this tip with caution.
  • Write after the kids are in bed. This is my best time. No phone ringing, no one ringing the door bell, and no kids running about. The quiet of night is my realm. The drawback is often mothers are also mentally and physically exhausted.
  • Write before the kids get up. I’m not a morning person, so this rarely works for me, but for others, it might. Get up an hour or even 15 minutes to snag some writing time.
  • Use writing bursts. You don’t necessarily need to sit and write for an uninterrupted hour. Try writing in 10 to 15 minute bursts through the day, when the kids are distracted with toys or TV.
  • Ask for help. I think this is one tip most mothers keep forgetting is at their disposal. If writing helps keep you sane, then writing is important enough to ask the spouse, a parent, a friend, etc to help out and give you a break. Your entitled to get a break, even if you’re a mother.

I hope these tips help some folks out there.

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