Saturday, June 13, 2020

So, you have an amazing idea for a story. Now what? How do you organize your thoughts to make a cohesive and coherent book instead of a rambling mess that doesn’t work out in the end?

There are more ways to go about it than you might think, and many variations of each way. Try them out and decide what works best for you. There is no right or wrong way. Here are five of them.

Free Writing/Brainstorming

Sit down and write anything that comes to mind about your book—setting, characters, plot, connections, the beginning, middle, end, plot twists, character flaws, character arcs, your goals, your hopes, and so on. Then group the ideas chronologically, by similarity, by topic, or by any other means you desire. As you work, your story will unfold before you. This method is a bit chaotic at first, but is a good way to just get your thoughts out.

Outline

A more structured way to organize your thoughts is to create an outline. You can create a hasty, generic outline that only touches on the main points and gives a quick glimpse into the details of your story, or a lengthy outline that gets down to the nitty-gritty of each chapter and what happens when and where. By the time you finish a detailed outline like that, your book is nearly written for you, however, it will be plot driven, so be sure you also create dynamic characters that move your plot forward.

Clustering

Perhaps a middle ground between vague chaos and strict order is clustering. Write the main idea or plot point of your story in the middle of the page and circle it. Then add ideas that relate to it and circle them. Add to each circled item until the details emerge. You can also do this for each of your characters to ensure you know all about them.

Create Your Characters

Speaking of characters, you can organize your work by writing about each character. Pull out a piece of paper or hop on your computer and create a page for each one. List their physical characteristics, but also their favorite color, how many people are in their family, events in their past that have shaped them, their weaknesses, their strengths, their favorite food, their best friend, their enemies, and on and on. Now, every detail about them doesn’t have to be in your story, but it helps you really get a feel for your characters. When you know your characters, you know how they will react to events in your plot.

Create it in Your Head

An alternative to the above methods is to create your characters and plot in your head. Run everything through like a movie until you know your characters and what your story will be like. Then begin writing your book.

As mentioned before, there are so many more ways to organize your thoughts into a book. Everyone is unique and will find their own way that works. Personally, I create my characters and run my ideas around in my head until I have a pretty good grasp of who, what, where, when, why, how, etc. Scenes run through like movie clips. Then I jot down a brief outline so I don’t forget any main points.Then I write, write, write. When the story is done, of course, the work has only begun. Next comes editing, rewriting, changing, fixing, tweaking, twisting, rewriting again, editing, editing, editing, and so on. But that can all be covered in another post. 

Allison Brown is the founder of Word Addicts, and is the author of The Precious Stones Treasury, a series of four novels, the last of which will be released in 2020. Find more about Allison HERE

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