Tuesday, 28 June 2011

How do you write a book outline?

One of the first things I heard about when I started down the path of writing my first novel was that a book should start with a book outline. Okay, I thought, show me an example. I surfed the web and came up empty. That was over a year ago. More recently, I've had two books on the go, and after 30,000 words or so, it was getting pretty hard to remember where all the various plot threads stood. Does X know that the death was a murder? In this chapter, does she already know the name of the victim, or not? I really needed a better outline tool. I had been using a word document in which I provided a brief outline of what happened in each chapter, but it was cumbersome to find the exact piece of information I needed when I needed it. So I thought I'd take another look for a "book outline" tool. Thankfully, Cameron Mathews of Truckpoetry.com came to my rescue with a useful tool. It's a simplified take on the "snowflake" method, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's called Cameron's Outline helper (http://www.truckpoetry.net/2007/09/author-resource-outline-helper.html). It helps you build the scenes and characters and helps you track your progress towards completing the various scenes. It was originally designed to help with NaNoWriMo (which I haven't participated in), but I'm using it pretty successfully for my two works in progress. I have made my own modifications to it as well. For example, I don't really want to know how many more words I have to write to get to my goal; I'd rather go by words completed. I guess I'm just a "glass half full" kind of person; I want to know what I've achieved because it gives me the motivation to keep going. I'm also tempted to combine some of the tabs. For example, two tabs are about the characters in your book. I'd prefer to include all of the information in just one tab, so I know that when I click on the tab, I'm bound to see the information I was looking for. And, something simple, I've renamed the tabs because I couldn't remember what information was which step. So far, so good. It's helped me summarize the plot points of each scene much better. And I wrote over 1,000 words today, bringing me up to over 38,000 in Grounds for Death.
I hope your writing is making progress, too.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Stuff I learned yesterday

In addition to figuring out how to set up this blog, yesterday was a day rich in learning. I read Amazon's e-book publishing process. Wow! Easy, and with better royalties than I'm currently experiencing with my iUniverse contract. Amazon is also associated with createspace.com, who will produce a treebook at no cost, provided it's given to them in complete form. Which means you have to have the artwork, inside layout, and editing completed beforehand. That seems doable. They also obtain an ISBN number for the work. So I thought I'd make some strides by publishing my book "Death in the Forsythia" in e-book format right away. Yesterday. But then I realized I had a contract with iUniverse, and what the heck did it say about my publishing the same book through another source? I spent an hour looking through all sorts of boxes and files, and finally found it lying on top of my "in-tray" in the office. I guess I'd dug it out already following a major office clean-out by hubby so he could paint the room (dark taupe - amazing with our black desk, filing cabinet and book shelf). Darn, the contract was 3 years long! But then I checked the date: I'd signed it June 24, 2008. I was within days of it ending. Perfect! But before I go down that route, I want to be sure I understand exactly what will happen if I end the contract, so I have a couple of days to figure that out.
In the meantime, I'll work on one of my other in-progress novels.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Hi everyone!

I'm happy to finally join the blogosphere! I look forward to posting my progress and hearing your thoughts. I'm currently mid-way on books two and three in the Garden Plot Mysteries series, working titles "Grounds for Death" and "The Case of the Purloined Poppy".