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Outlining Redemption

This weekend, I finally self-published my first book on Amazon Kindle. Just to give the whole thing a little background, I started writing this novel almost nine years ago and finished the first complete draft in about three months.

I wrote typically from 11pm to 1am abut six days a week and kept track of the multi-threaded plot of Redemption using huge, colored index cards. I’ve been asked many times, what my system was for keeping track of how everything interacted and connected in the story line, so here goes the basics of it.

Redemption Cover FINAL2I set up an MS Word doc containing my outline that had its page setup so that it would print to these big index cards I got from an office supply store. On each card at the top I had the chapter number, the characters in the chapter, the person from whose POV we see the action, the first action of the chapter, and the last action of the story.

Then I printed out the cards, and I would start reading through them like I was skimming a book. When I saw a gap, I’d slip in a blank card with notes to touch one of the story lines or to expand on a character, etc. If I stumbled over something that wasn’t quite as smooth as I wanted it to be, I would rearrange the cards until I liked the way things unfolded. After I was done, I would make the digital outline match the physical deck of these cards and start the review cycle again. Once I got it all straight, I just wrote to the cards. I let myself be creative and spontaneous during the initial writing process, and as long as I started on the right action and ended on the right action, my story held together. Here’s an earlier draft of one of the index cards.

Nowadays, I use Scrivener to do the exact same thing, only virtually. Love the simplicity and the interface. I don’t use all of the features, but for plotting and the initial draft, I really like it. Then it all goes into Word again for the re-writes and polishing.

One last thing before I get going on my writing tonight–Redemption used to be called The Conservation of Magic before my good friend, Rana June, convinced me that Redemption was a better title… Thanks, Rana!

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