I’m always looking at ways to be organized and also productive. As a former teacher, I lived and breathed my lesson plan book. I suppose you could say it was a modified version of a bullet journal. I wasn’t strict about following every lesson I planned out—you can’t be! Things happen in the classroom and you have to be able to adapt which means some lessons got done and some didn’t and you’d have to move the lessons around to make it work.
As a writer, it’s difficult to stay organized and productive. Research, drafts, notes—these all are necessary for writing a story, but it also can be a challenge to keep them all organized.
During the summer of last year, I spent time outlining my story, using the three act, eight sequence story structure. I had a major breakthrough in writing when I did this. I learned that I had a whole story. I just needed to write it! Cut to the present, I finished the first act and I’m now ready to write the second act.
But I had a little trouble figuring out how to make that transition. I spent a few days brooding about what would come next. I had an idea, but I didn’t know how to get there.
I went back to my original outline from the summer. It had been almost three months since I had looked at it and it was quite an eye-opening experience going back to it. So much of the story has evolved from that outline. The story has gone from a skeletal structure to a living, breathing entity complete with muscle and a complex system. I was surprised at how far I’d come and pleased to see such progress on my novel.
When reviewing the second act outline notes, it reminded me of the structure again. It was a lot like starting from the beginning again, learning the structure before adding the muscle and complexity to the system.
With this in mind, I decided to incorporate Scrivener as part of the process. I started using Scrivener a few years ago. I haven’t fully learned all the ins and outs of the program, but it was so easy to learn how to use it and just knowing the basic features of the program has really helped me to stay on top of things.
When I first started my book, I had my notes, sticky notes, a thick stack of index cards, and a trifold presentation board. I proceeded to plot out the first act, using my notes by jotting down the basic events on sticky notes and putting them on my presentation board. I’m a visual person which helped me to see the structure of my story.
This time for Act II, I used the cork board feature on Scrivener. The cork board feature is a virtual cork board complete with index cards. There are a lot of things you can do with these index cards like color coding and laying them out just to name a few features. For me, once I typed out the events for Act II, part 1, I printed out the index cards.
I also printed out Act I too. The default setting color coded each Act: Act I was in pink and Act II was in blue. The difference was that the events for Act I were already completed scenes where as Act II were only concepts. There’s a feature where you can label each index card so that Scrivener can recognize the difference.
Once the index cards were printed, it was just a matter of cutting and then taping them on to my presentation board. Thank goodness for washi tape—nother fantastic use for it! Since washi tape is adjustable, I can move the cards around if I need a scene somewhere else.
Now it’s time to write! I have a plan. I have direction. I’m hoping to meet my goal of completing Act II, Part 1 by the end of January, but if it takes me longer, I’m okay with that. I know where the story is going, I just have to stay to the path and keep writing.