A year and a half ago, I primed myself for my memoir project by reading a number of books on writing. Now, with the way opening up for my own writing project, I find myself reflecting on the process.
While having gained some useful insights from those books, in hindsight, I think I still approached the writing of my client's story the way I had approached other kinds of writing, such as the thesis for my Masters degree or the annual reports required in my position as a academic program director. I did my research, took copious notes, and then outlined the whole shebang, adding to it as I gathered more details and color-coding sections to align with characters or places or time periods.
Then, about the time I began writing the first draft, I invested in the writing app Scrivener, which I recommended here in October and which encourages the building of scenes within a "binder." Around the same time, I discovered writer and master teacher Mary Carroll Moore, whom I also wrote about in a post on structuring the memoir in June of 2013. Her "storyboarding" method intrigued me, and seemed a technique very compatible with Scrivener.
Eventually, scrolling down (or flipping through) my print outline, trying to find particular details when I wanted them among the color-coded chunks became tedious. I started combining my methods, moving chunks of outline into Scrivener. Finally, though checking now and again for a detail in the outline, I ended up abandoning my linear map and composing directly into Scrivener from the notes I had taken during interviews with my client.
Throughout this trial and error process, I picked up some valuable tools from Kathy Papajohn, author of the dystopian thriller Maligned, senior editor at Martin Sisters Press, and good friend. Kathy turned me on to a great resource from the February 2014 issue of Writer's Digest: an article in the WORKBOOK section called "Outlining and Story Mapping." I found that the kind of hybrid outlining/scene-sketching method described here was, in fact, what I had been gravitating to for several months. (The first point on crafting a premise was extremely helpful as well.)
Finally, having committed to serious study of these various methods with the intent to write a novel (or memoir of my own) this year, I was especially thrilled this week when I visited Charli Mills's Carrot Ranch site and saw her long and very well articulated post on Writing a Novel Scene by Scene. Here Charli gives readers a detailed accounting of her own experience ditching the outline and using Mary Carroll Moore's storyboarding method. She also offers great tips on how use an existing outline as a basis for building scenes, provides three different scenarios, and does a nice pitch for the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge. I am using her post as a guide right now, and highly recommend it.
What about your writing efforts? What techniques do you use to organize your writing? Which ones lend themselves to different kinds of writing? If you have used any of these tools, which ones have worked best for you? Would love your input. Thanks for visiting!