The Journey of a Thousand Miles …
Whew! All this preliminary work and we really haven’t started yet. Time to get a move on.
To review (in case you haven’t read the other posts yet):
- I’ve defined my tool set:
- As far as initial setup is concerned, I’m going to start working in the software app Craft Docs to save all of my notes.
- I just tested TextExpander with Craft and found that it works flawlessly. Thus, I can create templates in it to use repeatedly without having to copy and paste. (And since TextExpander also works with Bear Notes, I can use the same templates there if I later decide it’s the better tool for this.)
- I’m going to use the 8 Sequence approach created by Frank Daniels as my story structure method. I’ll be using material from Adam Skelter’s videos as well as additional material from other sources that adhere to Daniels’ method.
- I’m going to use a combination of tools found in the books, Plot Development by Jesper Schmidt and Autumn Birt and Rapid Story Development by Jeffrey Lyons for characterization.
- I’ve defined my genre:
- I’m going to be writing within the horror/supernatural genre with a strong queer lit focus. My research shows the average length of a horror novel is around 80,000 words. (I checked out several sources and they all say somewhere between 70,000 and 90,000 words. 80,000 is right in the middle.)
- Based on past experience, my scene word count falls somewhere in the 2000 word range per scene. Thus, we’re talking about 40 scenes in those 80,000 words.
- Dividing those 40 scenes among the 8 sequences means approximately 5 scenes per sequence.
While all this may seem pretty anal retentive, I’m just doing this to give me a basic “lay of the land” and make sure I’ve got just enough material for the book. There may end up being more than 40 scenes total, or some sequences may differ in the amount of scenes found within. That’s fine. I just don’t want to end up with a 200,000 word opus that horror readers wouldn’t even bother with, especially coming from an unknown author.
Creating the Sequence Notes Section
The following is a brief run down of how I created the Sequence Notes Section in Craft Docs. (Unfortunately, I really don’t have the space or time to go into in-depth instructions on how to use Craft. If you’re interested, I’ll point you to some decent tutorials and can always answer questions you send me. At the end of this post, I’ll include images to give you an idea of the finished product.)
- Opening up Craft Docs, the first thing I did was create a new folder for this project called Unclean, the name of my novel. All of my notes about this novel will be contained in this folder.
- I then created a subfolder underneath it named Sequences.
- I opened the Sequences folder and created a document for the first sequence. Eventually, I’ll have 9 documents in this folder: one for each of the 8 sequences and an additional one called Unassigned to hold scenes and material that I want to include, but am not sure where to put yet.
- I gave the document a title – Sequence 1.
- Being aesthetically-minded, I opened the document and added a header image to dress it up a little. (I just had some colorful abstract graphics laying around from another project that I’m recycling here. I could have also found images on Unsplash.com that directly reflect the contents of the sequence.)
- Within this document, I created 4 headers: Theory, Scenes, To-Do, and Notes.
- Under the Theory header, I created 2 subdocuments: one to contain notes about what instructors say should go in this sequence, and one to contain notes about they say should be found in the main scene of this sequence (the “Landmark” using Skelter’s terminology). Both of these documents can contain text from books, site links, images, and embedded videos that will help me later on when I start plotting. This will keep all reference material together instead of spread out over a variety of places. As I find new information that I want to save, I just add it in the appropriate theory document and it’s there when I need it.
- Beneath the Scenes heading, I created a document for each of the 5 scenes I estimated each sequence would contain. In order to create a visual separation from the documents found under the Theory section, I made them cards instead of documents. (There’s really no functional difference between documents and cards within Craft. They simply display the same information differently.) I will come back to these scene documents much later when it’s time to decide what information I want to track there. Right now, they’re merely placeholders.
- Under the To-Do header, I created a few to-do list placeholders; under the Notes header, I did the same thing using regular bullets. That completed the document for Sequence 1. (Refer to Figure 1 below to see what it looks like.)
- I then duplicated this document 8 times – one for each of the remaining sequences and one for Unassigned scenes. In each of these, I edited the names to reflect the sequence number found within. I also edited the names of the Theory subdocuments. Finally, I used different colored headers to visually separate the four acts and modified the header colors to match. Orange was Act 1, blue was Act 2, green was Act 3, and purple was Act 4. For the unassigned scenes, I made it yellow.
- In the Unassigned document, there won’t be any theory notes so that section was deleted. At this point, the basic structure was finished. (See Figure 2 below.)
- Finally, I started adding in theory notes to the subdocuments. Luckily, I had previously started gathering information a while ago during another false start so all I had to do was copy and paste it into the appropriate subdocuments. (Figure 3 below) I’d say I’m ready to begin plotting but I first have to decide what scene information I want to record. Still, I can make notes or to-do items until then.
As ideas eventually come to me, I can either place them directly in the appropriate sequence if I know it or I can refer to the theoretical sections in each sequence document to see where to best place them. If I create something I’m undecided about, I just place it in the Unassigned document as a new scene card until I can make a decision. Then, I can then move it into the appropriate sequence.
One section created. On to characters!
Figure 1 – The finished Craft document for Sequence 1 showing the subdocuments created to contain theory and scene notes.
Figure 2 – The finished Sequence folder showing the nine separate documents – one for each of the 8 sequences and one for things currently unassigned.