Friday, December 23, 2011

Methods to Madness

I’ve read how authors keep track of details as they write their novels. They use spiral notebooks. Poster boards. Colorful note cards. Highlighters. File folders. Databases.
          Seriously? Sounds like an awful lot of work to me—I want to write, be a panster, just let it all gush out. We don’t need no stinking note cards!
In hindsight it turns out that yes, we do need stinking note cards. Lots of them. While we were writing Book 1 in our series, we discovered some major time wasters that a bit of recordkeeping could have saved: 

·       Trying to figure out where something happened in the book. We couldn’t insert certain changes without messing up a timeline.
·       Frequent discussion of character personality traits which would impact future behaviors and overall plot. Is he really a cold-blooded murder or is it a crime of passion? A crime of opportunity? An accident?
·       Research scenes before they’re written. Not researching beforehand worked out okay for us because we were lucky guessers. Although we did have to change a few things (smell at the treatment plant, for instance), none affected the plot.
·       Wait, what kind of car did he drive? I thought it was a Buick. Hang on, let me find it. Will a Buick handle that way, or do we need to change the car? 

To stave off brain atrophy while we finish the painful and dull task of final reviews and edits of Book 1, Larry and I have begun Book 2. It’s important that I begin keeping track of details now. Already I’ve had to backtrack a few times, and we’re only on chapter three!
Having learned a few things the first time through this time is going to be different. I’ll need note cards for character traits, a notebook for the outline, a dozen highlighters for character tracking, and let’s see, what else…
So maybe all those authors weren’t mad after all. They had their method. It’s time for us to find ours—one that doesn’t include spending half our time trying to figure out what came before.
We need to find a method to our own madness.

1 comment:

Angela D. said...

The Virgo in me loves that part of writing a LOT. :)