Saturday, July 12, 2008

Writing Lessons- The Manuscript Binder


I’m going to assume you read the posts on motivation and color coding. If not, go back and read them. I’m not going to repeat myself, and you don’t want to be saying “Huh?” a lot.
Your color-coded binder’s dividers are labeled as follows, and I’ll now go into what each category is for.
1. Premise/Research- Everyone starts with an idea. Often it is nothing more than, “Hey, what would happen if…” Write it down. Your notes on where you want to go could keep you on track later. Also, unless you are an expert on a given setting, time period, occupation, whatever, you will need to do a bit of research. I’m a fairly good scuba diver, but I did make a few notes on the latest equipment and a few other things like how to calculate how long you could stay underwater at a certain depth. Sure as you breathe, some authenticity maven will hammer you if you aren’t sure of your data.

2. Characters- I’ll deal with this more in depth during the Character section of my lessons. Suffice it to say you will need a place to record all the obscure things about your characters. It’s best to name their dog, their favorite food, and all other data as you think of it.

3. Plot- I'll be teaching a compromise between the anal-retentive plotting I personally do, and having no plan at all. There will be at least two worksheets in here.

4. Chapters- As I mentioned, this is where you can put the chapters. I used extra dividers, labeled for each chapter number for easy reference.

5. Synopsis- If you've done what I suggest, The Dreaded Synopsis is a thing of the past. It practically writes itself! One worksheet, plus room for your copies of the three most common synopses.

6. Promotions- Chats, Contests, and all your notes on promotions go here. It's not nice to forget you promised to participate with another author in a recipe promo on her website, or forget where you promised to give away that cool prize. Keep track! When you have a long lead time before release, ideas come and go. Write them down.

Now, I don't care if you use a hanging file folder with manila folders inside, or any other sort of paper-holding device as long as you use one and it is color-coded. This is important! Even hanging file folders and manila files can be bought in colors or labeled with a dot.

Let's assume that you've decided that, since this is a vampire story, you wish to use red as the color code because red makes you think of blood. Go buy a red binder, red smiley and star stickers, a red permanent marker such as Sharpie, and red dots to color code files as well as anything else you can't buy as red.

Use the label maker and label everything. I do mean everything. There's nothing worse than finding a piece of paper buried under your papers and not know what all those notes are for! It wastes time, and possibly means lost data. Each worksheet can even have a red dot to make sure you know where it goes.

Now you are set to write, and you won't lose anything. You are now ready.

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