by Paul Maher Jr.
I took my blue notebook and outlined a framework to establish a tentative narrative to follow. In Scrivener I had already created a template with eleven chapters and five sections per chapter, so I know to do the same in my notebook. This will allow me to plot out my characters, where they are going, what they are doing, and brainstorm openly on paper so as to keep everything intact and that I won’t forget my ideas.
There is a variety of software out there that allows you to do the same, but I like to keep my hand athletic, to handwrite and it makes it real for me to fill up lines in a notebook, like progress is already being made.
Two hours later I have filled in my notes for the first chapter. True, they are tentative notes, but they give me a pretty good indication of where I want to go by the end of the chapter. This is a form of scaffolding, it allows one to keep track of characters and motivations, and it is vital in allowing a writer to harness in his ideas and not allowing them to escape your grasp.
On the pages of the notebook, I left a column for the characters involved in the section, followed by a brief synopsis of the section’s contents, a third column for any peripheral notes, and then settings. I have six rows, five of which are devoted to each section. I initially thought that using a pencil would be the best thing, but I like the indelible permanence of ink, and I know that I can make my changes in the “notes” column if need be.
So, to sum up for the week, I started by just writing, putting down on paper some free-flow narrative of a story that’s been on my mind, stemming from a direct impression, and then expanding on it by writing it into the notebook, then typing it with some changes into Scrivener, and then returning to the blue notebook to finally develop some sort of framework for the body of the entire novel.
I know, at the very least, that I will stick to this. I thought in happenstance that maybe I should have done the same for biography, which was purely writing as I went, because the subject’s life already provided a framework. But still, doing it this way could have tightened up the flow of the life considerably.
Lesson learned, even the most established author can still improve on past efforts.