I’m getting ready to start organizing my thoughts on a new story before I ever start writing my manuscript. I had an idea a few months ago as I was traveling to some pretty cool places when I was on vacation, and if you’re a fellow writer like myself, you might have a tendency to carry a notebook or even be a little higher tech to where you take notes on your smart phone. I’m not a cavewoman, and I do take notes on my phone from time to time, but I still like having a small notebook that is dedicated to ideas. There’s just something that sings to my soul when I put pen to paper.
One of the first things I like to do is to start entering into my Excel spreadsheet all of the ‘What If’ scenarios playing around in my mind. I might not use all of them in my manuscript, but I think it helps build my story, plots, subplots, character arcs, etc. I like having one file with multiple tabs dedicated to different things. Then as I start writing, I might add to it if I change part of the story or have a better idea, which does happen from time to time. It’s not the prettiest thing to look at, but I find that it works for me. It also helps to keep me in line as I write because I can make sure the descriptions of places early on in my novel are consistent throughout because I can go back to my spreadsheet and reference it.
Once I get done building my spreadsheet, and I’m done with my plot structure, then I’ll move into outlining my chapters with the characters and key events that happen. I do stalk JR Ward on social media because she is nice enough to throw stuff out there that she does as she writes that works for her. I know her outlines are very detailed and can run longer than most writers, and she has mentioned there has been other writers who use software to help with structuring their novels. I thought about looking into the software piece, but alas, I haven’t done so yet.
Not sure if this is something anyone else could find helpful, but you’ll find my ugly spreadsheet at the top of this post.