ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs, Author, Screenwriter, Copywriter and Dramatic Historian
Do you use Post-It notes? I find them repulsive because even though they are meant to keep me organized, they end up looking like a bunch of colorful clutter with words on them that are obscure or obsolete once I go back to review them. Their original intended use may not work well for me, but I have discovered the perfect use for them within my writing process. I am currently working on the sequel to my novel, The Vital Sacrifice. I was pleased with the finished product of my first novel, but I admit that I wasn’t very organized in the writing process the first time around. Since I have many more books to research and write soon, I thought it would be a good idea develop a writing routine that I can apply to each of my projects so that I won’t get tangled up in the production process.
One way that I have planned to keep my book layout and writing plan on track is a technique that I learned in a screenwriting class. Excellent screenwriters (film writers) lay out their scenes using index cards. They usually lay the cards out on the floor or they may have a large cork board on which they pin the index cards. This method of organization allows them to move scenes around easily if and when they need to make changes to the script before they start writing the screenplay.
While most screenwriters use the index card method, I have found that using the poster board and Post-It notes method is more convenient. I find this process very useful and satisfying because I can see everything that needs to happen in my book scenes laid out in front of me, similar to an outline. Unlike an outline, it is easier to move scenes around as I change my mind about the storyline. Also, having the Post-It notes on poster board is great because, as all you writers know, we need a change of scenery sometimes and this is a light, convenient thing to carry around the house or around the world.
I’m not sure what your approach to writing is but I usually start by laying my book out in acts or parts. I create a Post- It for each of the acts and put those on the poster board. From there, I start filling in scenes under each part. I have moved scenes and gotten rid of them by just moving a Post-It note. Once I am comfortable with all the things laid out in my acts, I then group scenes together to formulate a chapter. But I loosely create chapters at this point because I don’t want to restrict my creative process too much. The goal with my poster board and Post-It note method is getting organized enough to avoid writer’s block.
How about you? What techniques do you use to keep yourself organized during the research and writing process? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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