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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pieces and Parts

Aw, phooey.  My weekend ended up being consumed by visits to Hospice, grandkids, post-op pooch care, and trying to keep the house one step ahead of the health department.   No writing time and only managed a couple comments to my blog friends (my apologies to the ones I missed). 

But I am determined to at least get in a blog post for Monday morning, so here goes.

A question for writers: How do you keep track of all the pieces and parts in your stories?  I'm talking about different storylines, characters, etc.; making sure each one gets enough time and re-appears at reasonable intervals.  I use a rainbow.

I'm a plotter.  I've got most of my story worked out from the beginning, although I revise and re-write a lot as I go.  On my monitor I have two Word windows open...one for the story and one with a running timeline which includes a quick mention of every scene.  On the timeline I use the Word highlighting tool to mark each scene according to whether it's part of the main plot or a subplot (and which one).  I also color code things like "cop work", romance, backstory, clues, and certain characters who are important but remain in the background most of the time.  The colors let me see where I am on balance and spacing so I can make adjustments as I go.  Sometimes a storyline needs more attention, sometimes it needs to be trimmed, sometimes it needs to be cut completely.  Or my rainbow may show me where I need to rearrange scenes, i.e I've got too many blues together, I need to slip the red scene in between. 

So, what about you?  How do you keep track of all your pieces and parts?  Any other rainbow users out there?

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 111,618. (If I don't manage to get some serious editing done soon, I'm going to be too embarrassed to keep this line in my blog.)

I'm currently enjoying: Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

Quote of the day: “Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true” - Lyman Frank Baum

8 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

Sounds like your rainbow system could be very handy. The different colors would make it easy to find what you were looking for. With all the different colors, it would also make the work a little brighter. Best of luck.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Maria Zannini said...

I don't think I could handle color coding it. LOL.

My outline is a 2-3 line summary for each chapter where I ask these questions: What happens? Who has the most to lose? How can I make it worse?

Linda Leszczuk said...

Mason - Thank you, and thanks for stopping by.

Maria - I like your questions. Might try applying them to my chapters as well. Thanks,

Stephen Tremp said...

I use red and blue highlights occassionally, but that's about it. Too many colors and I start having flashbacks.

Stephen Tremp

Robert Guthrie said...

Your rainbow organizer is fantastic. I also love that have a timeline window open while you write.

I'm not that organized. While proofing I'll get the sense of what's out of balance. That said, while writing or editing, I keep notes at the end of the document that I review at the end of every session. That helps me fill in blanks.

I'm going to start looking for rainbows. THANK YOU!

Linda Leszczuk said...

Stephen - Ahhh, the rainbow haze. I remember it well.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Robert - I can get a sense of what's out of balance when I'm re-reading but then I waste a ton of time flipping back and forth trying to figure out what I need to fix. I keep my running notes in the timeline file, too, highlighted in yellow (things that aren't finished yet). I fear I'm a little color crazy.

Let me know if you decide to try using colors and how it works for you.

G-MOM said...

Just to let you know I was here again. Didn't have an ID to leave a message the first and second time. Hope all is going well with your book. How is Eleanora?