Yesterday I was able to sit down and start my outlining for book ten, which I’m doing alongside of some of you frantically scribbling for NaNoWriMo. My word count is still zero, but I’m almost ready to start writing. My post yesterday gave you some indication of how I went about organizing my thoughts for a new book. Well today, I’m going to tell you exactly what I did.
First order of business: Pick out the color I’m going to use for this book. It’s a little known fact, but every book I write has a color which I help to quickly identify it in my file cabinet and scattered on my desk. DWW is red. GBU is pink. I’ve had to get creative as we inch up on book ten. Book ten is a sort of teal blue. I’ve got matching paperclips, binder clips, and sticky notes, and if you think finding color matching office supplies is easy, then you’ve never tried to find teal blue paperclips. I found them three months ago and tucked them away, knowing I’d need them. Heck, I even checked out my sock drawer to see if I could go all blue for the day. (nope, I had to stick with my purple socks) The sooner I identify a book with a color, the easier it is to remember it in my head.
Second, I picked out a working name for the book. No, I’m not going to tell you what it is. This year, it took me five minutes. Sometimes, it will take an hour. It never stays the same all the way to the shelf, but I have to have it in order to print out my header sheets.
Third, I print out my header sheets. Since I’m writing my notes out longhand, I like to have a header with my name, the book title, and a spot for the date. I usually go through 30 to 60 sheets when I organize and outline. Laughing? Fine, but when someone comes whining to me that thirty years ago she wrote a book about a chipmunk and a shaman living in a monastery fighting crime, I can prove that great minds think alike. He who has the most data wins, and I’ve got a lot.
I then pick the month the book takes place in, print out my calendar and sun and moon tables, and check the average temps so I know where Jenks sits. (You can make a calendar page for any month of any year by opening up “new office document” if you’ve got windows and scroll through to “other documents” and find calendar.) The sun and moon tables that I use are here. Government sun and moon tables They don’t take into account daylight savings, so watch it if your characters do. I’ve used these for ten years, and no one has ever asked me why they don’t use daylight savings after the Turn. Well . . . this is why. I’m lazy and don’t want to do the math.
I also print out a blank character grid so I can start to keep track of how many characters I’ve got going. If there’s too many, I know I need to start trimming plots or combining characters. I try to keep it under 20 characters, and that includes the bad guys. I’ll have more on the character grids next week. I know I’ve been promising a look at one to a lot of you for a long time.
Now I’m ready to plot and plan, writing out my wants, my remembers, my three-sentence plots (I’ve got three this time. Solve the crime, settle the love interest, and pacify the demons. It’s a busy book.)
But first I have to change the icon on my computer files from a file to a big star so it’s easy to find.
Is it procrastination, or is it organization? Beats me, but I’m happy so it doesn’t matter much.
PS I also want to tell you about a contest that I’m going to be judging where you have the chance to win an ARC of fellow author Faith Hunter, Book Two in her Jane Yellowrock series. BLOODCROSS I have read the first one and loved it. I’m desperately waiting for the second, but because I’m the judge, I’m out of the running for the ARC. Not to mention Aleix or Xander would pee on my pillow if I dressed them up. If you like reading, and you have a pet, jump over to her website for the rules. Faith’s website
I’m still getting a few Halloween pictures for the contest to win the ARC of BLACK MAGIC SANCTION, most of them will be going up today, but keep sending them in. Contest runs to the second week of November.
Have a great weekend, guys! –Kim