"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" ~ C. S. Lewis

Monday, July 11, 2011

To Write is Human, to Revise Divine

It seems like almost everyone says they could write a novel if they wanted to. Some of those actually do take a stab at writing something. Some of those actually finish a rough draft. But only a handful of those will take the time and effort to polish and revise and rework that draft into something better.

I feel like I am perpetually in the camp of people that have a rough product, but aren't really sure how to get it from word vomit to coherent story.
From Finding Wonderland
So I do what any good writer would do and troll the interwebs for hints, suggestions, and cute animal pictures.
(by the by, that website where I found that hilarious cartoon has a ton more - they do a "Toon Thursday" and I was laughing pretty hard. See? Troll the interwebs, my friends, troll around)

This last week I stumbled across two very different and very visual means of plotting or organizing your book.  The WIP I'm struggling with started as a NaNo novel that I wrote while attending grad school and teaching, so it's very much (very, very much) word vomit. It was the pantsiest (pantserest?) I've ever written. The characters are coming together, the basic plot is kind of in place, but I'm not really sure how to get where I need to go. So even though I have some raw material, it's kind of like I'm starting from scratch and I have been trying to figure out ways to make this work. I found both of these super helpful, and they also reminded me of a third idea that someone posted a while ago.

The first one comes from a post by Jamie Harrington over at Totally the Bomb. The post is from last year, but someone (I totally forget who) linked to it and I thought it was hilarious and brilliant and I had to share.

She uses a "storysaurus" to plot her books. Click on the link above to see a picture of it. It's basically a way to easily and loosely plot the ARC of your story. The nice thing about it is that, even if you are a pantser, it's flexible enough and versatile enough that you can add spikes, remove spikes, rearrange spikes, without much trouble. Plus it's WAY more fun than a bullet point outline.

The second one is from the ever helpful QueryTracker website. Suzette Saxton posted on this tip that she had come across elsewhere. It's basically a tic tac toe board for your novel, with nine important sections and how they intersect and interact. You can click on the link above to take a look at them.

I love both of these because they are so visual and so loose. I feel like it would be so easy to rearrange, rework, redo anything you put on these. A traditional outline can feel very constraining at times (at least to me).

The last one is actually based on the book Save the Cat which I NEED to read, but haven't had a chance to get to yet. Anyhoodles, Elizabeth over at Liz Writes Books shared this beat sheet that she created to help her plot out the "beats" of the novel. I've played around with this a bit and have found it incredibly helpful in getting my thoughts in order. It's also very visual, plus it's Excel, which I kind of love playing around with (yes I am a geek). The link there will take you to her post.
funny pictures of cats with captions
How about you? Do you have any tricks you use for organizing, plotting, or revising your novels? Any helpful (or hilarious) sites you've come across when trolling for help?


NiaRaie said...

That comic is hilarious and spot on. I want to hang that somewhere. Also, thanks for the links. I'm looking over them now.

erica and christy said...

I have absolutely no tips, so thanks for the new ones. ;)

And everytime I hear about people who think they can write a book, I wonder why they don't. It's a great way to spend time and even if you never finished, at least you tried. Then again, those people probably have clean houses and fed children and... hehe

Tessa Conte said...

Love the comic, too!

As for revising... I suck at that. Truly. So no advice from me...

Jemi Fraser said...

Jamie & Suzette are both brilliant! I'm a pantster too - but I could maybe try a loose outline! :)

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

dude. I LOVE me some excel fooling around. GEEK SISTAHS!
I've seen the tic tac toe board before and that kinda freaks me out. But i kinda heart storysaurus. Except it would force me to know my chapters ahead of time. I outline, but my outline is just a list of scenes. I stick chapter breaks in as a go along. Wherever they feel good