Over the Easter break I held myself up in my bedroom and didn’t come out until I had a complete outline of my work in progress; “Brittany & Charli”. It was tough going, but extremely rewarding.
I wrote the first scene card on Thursday evening, and by Monday morning I had about 200. I did a lot of pre-writing before the long weekend on motives, conflicts and outcomes for each character of my novel. The best resource on this was Rachael Stephen’s Novel Building video’s on YouTube. She breaks it down into 5 videos and I watched them over and over again. If you are an aspiring writer I suggest you click here.
Have you ever tried writing a plot outline for yourself just with bullet points? I think this is the reason a lot of writers think outlines are useless. When I was reading through my bullet points I was thinking, “Sure, I know that has to happen after that, but what happens to make that happen after that?”
I gave my scenes a beginning a middle and an end to make my writing streamlined. Yes, I’ll still have room to move when I write, but I won’t be sitting there having to think over every chapter. I’ve given myself the road map to move from plot point to plot point.
The toughest points were when I could see all the plot holes. You only have to follow me on twitter @queenemilicious to see the highlights of that saga! And the worst was putting a scene card into chapter 20 and realising I didn’t make the card for the scene where they receive a pivotal piece of information needed for the later scene… lots of sighs… well swearing to be honest. But it showed just how valuable the experience was. Now I won’t make another mistake of writing in circles and going off on tangents.
I came up with the original concept for “Brittany & Charli” when I was 14 years old. I wrote religiously after school and on weekends from 15 to 17 years of age. It started as a funny kids book. I was unhappy at school, so I gave the girls an idyllic life that I could escape into. But I had no plan and would go off on wild tangents. The tangents help me find out new concepts for the book, but it was more like free writing rather than constructing a novel.
Over the last year I rewrote the first half of the book about five times… Ugh is all I can say. I loved the story and knew it had to be told. However, I was hating it and couldn’t see why anyone would care about it.
Now it has had a massive overhaul. As a teenager I still wrote in a lot of drama, drama is my bread and butter, but the girls now have real issues and obstacles to overcome. So the fact that I started in 2005 didn’t mean I didn’t have a shit-tonne of work to do!
One of the best tips I have is to make a list of sub plots and divide your scene cards into their own plots. Look at the sub plots on their own and see if they make a complete story. I wrote a few scenes cards in chronological order, then split a few of them up. Just because one came after the other did not mean they were part of the same sub plot! Was a great way to work out where the holes were, despite the hours of reshuffling. (I spent up to 13 hours a day on this damn thing!)
I seriously could not be more thrilled at how it has turned out. I managed to create the layout of 28 chapters for my young adult novel “Brittany & Charli”. I’ve written the first three scenes of chapter one and am completely pumped!