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.