Thursday, November 12, 2009


Look, Mommy. A rainbow!
No, it's not a rainbow, darling. It's a writer's hard work.

Yes, that's right, that which you see before you, is my story from beginning, middle, twist, ending, including the rules of my world and its fantasy elements in all its color-coded glory. It's a beauty, isn't she?

This is a HUGE breakthrough for me. Me, who said she was an organic writer. Me, whose taken, ahem, $^@(@ years and I am still writing the darn thing. Me, who had all these holes and thought, well, when I get to that part, I will just know what to do.

BUZZ! No. Wrong answer.

An outline is your friend. Embrace the outline. Love the outline. Beeeee the outline.

Okay, maybe I've gone a little loopy from all this NaNo stuff (which reminds me, I better keep this brief!) But I've done it. I've really done it - an outline in a living, breathing format that can grow and change as my story grows and changes. I love my outline.

I've always wanted to do this, but I never wanted to put tape on my wall or I thought it would look messy or I was afraid of strangers coming in my office and seeing it and wanting to read it. Gasp!

BUZZ! Again, wrong answer.

If you see something in your mind, if that little voice in your head says, I really wish I could display my outline on my wall so I can stare at it from time to time, read my whole story from beginning to end in five minutes... if you hear a voice in your head telling you your creative steps, then you need to listen, folks!

And listen I finally did.

Wanna know my color-code? Pink are my polished chapters. Orange are chapters from a previous draft, yellow are brandy-new chapters and the green and yellow mess to the left... those are the various rules of the various fantasy elements in my story.

TaDAAA!!!!! And there you go, a living breathing outline that I can change in a second flat if need be. Now, I better go stare at it some more and get on to my NaNo word count. THE END, here I come!!!!!


Betsy Devany said...

Love this, Sheri!
Thanks for sharing the photo, as well as your progress. I, too, like to work with colors. I am doing the same thing with varying themes in one of my novels. Each theme is a different color dot. The dots help me to see which themes can be taken out and which themes I should pull through the story more consistently.
Keep going!

PJ Hoover said...

Yay! It's looking great!

Jeanie W said...

Looks like someone's been to Staples...

Kelly H-Y said...

It's so PRETTY!!! Like artwork! :-) Yay, Sherri!!! So happy to hear of all this wonderful progress!!! Cool system too!

Sheri said...

Thanks everyone!

Rebecca said...

Fascinating! Maybe I will try this system some day. Right now I am just keeping track of my story in a notebook that I keep at my side as I type. Sometimes I work ahead and jot down what I think it coming next in my story. Other times I summarize what I've already written. Kinda messy, but it's been working for me so far.

I've been writing some of my book by hand too, when I'm not near a computer and I'm always jotting things down that I need to change in the computer version.

Good luck with the rest of the month!

Terresa said...

I appreciate this! It is maybe, even prettier than a rainbow, for all the darned hard work it must have taken to compose, arrange, think out.

You are, my dear, brilliant.

And me, (the self proclaimed outline-less, organic writer that I am, er, was) is going to outline my current WIP like a mad dog. Watch me. :)

Sheri said...

Becky, I've done the whole notebook thingy. I am way too OCD to have that work for me. I begin to get bothered how sloppy my handwriting is, or where I wrote this, that, or the other thing. It is so interesting how we all have different methods to our madness!

Hey Terresa. Welcome! And I love that you are going to give outlining this way - or anyway - a try. I completely recommend you reading From Where Dreams Come by Robert Olen Butler. Some of it is silly, but his outlining method works for us organic writers especially well.

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous