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Organized Chaos

Last week, I mentioned the fact my new book had many twists and turns. Coming up with a way to organize those twists and turns proved both easy enough and complicated. The easy part was the system - colored paper with short descriptions to indicate the action. For example, Tree enters school would go on one color, while another character had another color. With washi tape, I'm able to shift the items around and keep them in the journal.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, 2015
The journal currently looks about as good as this shot of the Eiffel Tower - a bit messy and confusing. The shorthand notes give me the general rhythm of the series, but not the exact path of the series - something I like because I typically allow the story to write itself, or at least, allowing for the possibility of a detour.

The best part of the process (which hasn't finished) is the fact I'm able to keep track of the many parts of the story. Where one character is in danger, another character's story line provides the answer. I hadn't realized when I started working on the series just how interconnected everything would be. I considered it to be like a doubleweave in which the two layers of fabric float against each other, but occasionally intersect. As I work on the series, it becomes more complicated, and almost a puzzle where things connect and lead down a different path.

It's a fun exercise, though it takes most of the day to figure out what the actions are. Sometimes it comes in a rush, and other times it's a trickle. Still, it forces me to consider the story line, how each character's actions affect the others, both around them and in the greater picture. It's provided a clear set of antagonists to the protagonists, and it has provided some of the missing pieces to the story.

Having multiple ways to attack a novel is a good tool to have in the writer's toolbox. While you might normally write one way, knowing how to construct a novel another way proves useful as I'm finding out.


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