Thursday, September 9, 2010

Project Notebooks #4: Chapter Summaries, Running Edits and Research

It's official, I'm little better than a monkey. I said I would post this soon, and I most definitely did not. Now that we have this firmly established, we can move on. :-)

The last portion of my Project Notebooks contains Chapter Summaries, Running Edits and Research.

Chapter Summaries consist of a page for each chapter, on which I write the chapter number, the word count for that chapter, the total word count so far for the whole book, and the page numbers. (The page numbers will change as I revise, but I have a general idea where that chapter is located in the manuscript.)

After this information, which is all listed at the top of the page, I then list the Point of View character(s), the setting and then basic plot points. I can then look at the summary and know exactly whose point of view I was in, where the characters were and what happened.

The Running Edit portion of the notebook is for those times when I come to the middle of the manuscript and think, "Ok, Sally is not going to be an attorney, she's a party planner." Rather than go back to the beginning and fix all those references to Sally being an attorney, I flip to the Running Edit section of the notebook, write down the change, and then from that point on in my writing, I pretend Sally is a party planner. When I get to the end of the book, I go to the Running Edit section and see that I've written myself a note that I need to make changes to Sally's profession. It's at this point that I go through the manuscript and make those changes. The beauty of a Running Edit is that you don't stall yourself midstream- you keep pushing forward until the story is told and THEN go back and edit.

My Research section is simply a place where I can write questions to myself. Things like, "When was the fountain pen invented?" I also write the page number in the manuscript where this is an issue, as I have a character using a fountain pen. I don't have to stop and look things up as I write- again interrupting the flow. I do the research afterward and can relax as I write knowing that whenever a question pops up, I've jotted it down in the Research section so I won't forget about it.

That sums up my Project Notebook, and if you've stuck around this long to see how I do it, I commend you wholeheartedly. I'm happy to say that much of the reason I've not been blogging is because I've been writing a book. I'm trying to find a way to balance both. :-)

Good luck with your writing projects! I hope maybe I've given some suggestions here that might be of use.


Noble M Standing said...

I love this idea, and have been waiting for the last instalment so I can make my own project notebooks. Thanks for the awesome ideas.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Oh, good! I'm glad it was useful for you, and so sorry it took this long to post the whole thing! Thanks for your patience. :-) Good luck with your writing projects!

Cathy Witbeck said...

This is such a great idea. Thank you for sharing it.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

My pleasure, Cathy! Thanks for posting. :-)