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Where to start-Organizing


E.J. Roxx

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I've been working on a series of short stories, one of which I've already start posting while the others are in the drafting phase, and I hope to get them published as a hole book. At the same time I have about 4 different idea, one for a series and three for full novels. I'm not the most productive person on the planet, and least of all organized. So having all these stories swarming around in my head is a little hard to keep track of yet alone write when I have some other story I would like to get started on. I don't have a one track mind and my brain likes to wonder and lose intrest( ADHD) so it makes it difficult to finish anything even if I have a six page out line of what I am working on. I was wondering if anyone had any experience being a writer with ADHD and an over active brain, would really like some tips on how to get things done, also about publishing as well, I know there are a few publishing websites for lgbt stories, but I still want to know someone who has done it.

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The three things I do for a novel (not a short story) are as follows:

 

1) I write a list of bullet points of what needs to happen in the chapter -- not in any great detail, but just one sentence. At most, I get six or seven main points down.

 

2) write a list of character names and descriptions, including age, height, physical characteristics, a little background. None of this need ever be seen by anybody but you.

 

3) create a timeline that provides the time and location where everything takes place. When you have multiple events, this will help keep them separate, so if you know you said "March 5th" in one part of the story, it won't magically change to "March 8th" later on.

 

I personally think a 6-page outline is too much for a short story, and in truth, I think it might even be too long for a novel. I once ran into awful trouble when I had over-outlined a novel, because in truth one of the greatest things about writing is the journey of discovery, where you're forced to invent or react to interesting situations that come out of nowhere. So to me, just having the bare bones down on paper is good.

 

But: every writer works differently, and there are actually writers out there who take no notes, have no outline, and just make it all up on the fly. My memory isn't good enough to do that, especially if I have a story with 25-30 speaking roles and forget that Joe is 6' tall and Mary is 60 years old. 

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I would always say that before launching yourself into a full on book, finish your short story series and see what people think of it.

 

I never plan, and there are probably six ideas my brain is working on right now as well as the two I am currently writing. Plans, timelines and the like always make me frustrated that I'm not actually writing. Everyone's different. Trial and error and see what works for you.

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The three things I do for a novel (not a short story) are as follows:

 

1) I write a list of bullet points of what needs to happen in the chapter -- not in any great detail, but just one sentence. At most, I get six or seven main points down.

 

2) write a list of character names and descriptions, including age, height, physical characteristics, a little background. None of this need ever be seen by anybody but you.

 

3) create a timeline that provides the time and location where everything takes place. When you have multiple events, this will help keep them separate, so if you know you said "March 5th" in one part of the story, it won't magically change to "March 8th" later on.

 

I personally think a 6-page outline is too much for a short story, and in truth, I think it might even be too long for a novel. I once ran into awful trouble when I had over-outlined a novel, because in truth one of the greatest things about writing is the journey of discovery, where you're forced to invent or react to interesting situations that come out of nowhere. So to me, just having the bare bones down on paper is good.

 

But: every writer works differently, and there are actually writers out there who take no notes, have no outline, and just make it all up on the fly. My memory isn't good enough to do that, especially if I have a story with 25-30 speaking roles and forget that Joe is 6' tall and Mary is 60 years old. 

Yea I understand, I created the outline because previously I would have an idea with all the major points but I would have a hard time going from point a to b, so having the short summaries of each chapter is pretty helpful to me, until it gets annoying. I ended up wanting to change a chapter, but because of this, it changes the flow of the hole book, so something else has to change. So I've learned my lesson on over detailed outlines. The time line is really helpful, especially since I usually throw the basic beginning, middle and end out of the window and it gets hard to keep track of after a while.

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I would always say that before launching yourself into a full on book, finish your short story series and see what people think of it.

 

I never plan, and there are probably six ideas my brain is working on right now as well as the two I am currently writing. Plans, timelines and the like always make me frustrated that I'm not actually writing. Everyone's different. Trial and error and see what works for you.

I am planning to finish the short story series, as they are around fifty pages each, so that in itself is like writing a full novel. I think my biggest problem is writing a first draft without caring whether or not it is perfect..

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I'm not the most experienced writer and I'm still discovering my writing style. I've read recently, that if you are having problems with your first draft try to handwriting it rather than typing. The book explained that by writing it you'll be less likely to focus on editing. It's helped me focus more on getting the words out but like Sasha said, everyone is different.  

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Yea I understand, I created the outline because previously I would have an idea with all the major points but I would have a hard time going from point a to b, so having the short summaries of each chapter is pretty helpful to me, until it gets annoying. I ended up wanting to change a chapter, but because of this, it changes the flow of the hole book, so something else has to change. So I've learned my lesson on over detailed outlines. The time line is really helpful, especially since I usually throw the basic beginning, middle and end out of the window and it gets hard to keep track of after a while.

 

Well, you know what a lot of screenwriters do: they take every major plot point, write it on a 3x5 card (analogue!), and pin it to a corkboard. When they need to juggle the plot elements, they re-arrange the cards. Sure, sometimes when you make a story change 1/3 in, you have to ripple the changes on down and change some stuff at the end, but that's the way it is.

 

I don't go to the trouble of a cork board, but I get that there are a lot of different ways to work, some of which are good for some people, some aren't. At least having the bullet points is helpful, especially if you finish a chapter and then go back and check the list, then wind up saying, "damn! I left such-and-such out of the story!"  And that does happen to me on occasion, so I have to dive back in and revise.

 

To echo Redsunshine's comments above: no less than Stephen King said that he has written several of his novels completely in longhand, on yellow pads, mainly because either he was in pain from health problems or he wanted to try a different approach. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels were initially written in longhand on yellow pads while the author sat in her favorite coffee shop; it clearly worked for her. 

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  • 1 month later...

I have about six novels at various points of completion.  Some I've been working on for 10 years, adding a chapter on occasion.  I'm somewhat surprised at how well I can recapture the plot, style, point of view, etc. even after years.  I usually keep a running outline of unfinished chapters.  Sometimes I scrap ideas as I write.  On occasion, an idea for one story leads to an entirely new work.  

 

My issue is that I have all these stories in my head and lack to gumption to do all the typing.  So I wittle them down over time.

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For short stories, I use a rough point outline to plan it. Just a list of plot points, Character A goes into the store and sees Character B, Character C asks Character A to get .....

 

For longer stories I use a modified version of the mind mapping technique, it's also called spider or web I think. It's easier done on paper, but if you have MS Project or similar, or are familiar with MS Word you can do it on the computer.  http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Mind-Map

 

 

I mind map the main character or main theme on one page, labeled A, and write out the events that happen to that character or create the theme, with each labeled A1, A2, A3 etc. Then each smaller event or character gets their own page B, C, etc, with the details of the event. When it's time to write the story, I play with the smaller events until I get them in the order than makes sense. Some events make it into the story, others don't.

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  • 2 weeks later...

'I remember when it was all done in first draft telling Gene Wolfe, who is the wisest writer I know and has written more excellent novels than any man I've met, that I thought I had now learned to write a novel. Gene looked at me, and smiled kindly. "You never learn how to write a novel," he told me. "You only learn to write the novel you're on."'

—Neil Gaiman, An Introduction to the Tenth Anniversary Edition of American Gods

 

I felt like this belonged here.

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  • 2 months later...

Like the others, I have always worked on multiple stories at a time, but it can be confusing or overwhelming if you start too many projects. Especially if you're not organizing your information.

 

For me, I use Google Drive and Scrivener to stay organized while writing.

 

Google Drive is useful because I can create folders for each story and create a document with an outlined plot (even if it's rough), characters, images for inspiration, links to research, etc. For example, I may have a folder labeled "After Midnight", and have the outline chapter-by-chapter as well as an overall summary with the themes, a page for the characters and images to inspire me, and then a document with lists of links that I've used to research locations, medical facts, etc.

 

I use Scrivener to write in because it's an easy way for me to keep my chapters organized. It also tracks word count by chapter, allows you to have a word count goal, indicates word frequency to avoid "crutch words" and overused phrases, and so on. The best way to explain it was for me to upload an example of the program with one of my projects so you can see the layout:

 

ibgbqt.jpg

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I too struggle with ADHD tendencies where I'll suddenly and cold-turkey lose interest in a project I've invested LOTS of time in, and I've found that organization is actually the key to getting me to the finish line! I do everything on Google Drive, because I can access it anywhere (phone, iPad, laptop, etc) and it's easy to organize writing docs/spreadsheets into folders. AND it's free.

 

When I get a plot bunny/new project idea, I go into GDrive and make a new folder for it. Then I just dive in -- outlines, character inspiration, rap sheets, chapter writing -- until I inevitably lose interest. When that happens, I can go back to GDrive, look into all of the OTHER folders I have, and dive into something else that interests me. It's kind of a round-robin process. 

 

Working this way helps keep me from stressing, too. Sometimes I would feel so guilty about disliking a project where I've worked so hard, that I would have to completely delete it out of my life to prevent a kind of shame-guilt complex. AND ALSO having all of the projects available to me to pick and choose from saves me from ruining a project just because I feel stubbornly obligated to keep working on it, even when I'm completely over it, haha.

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