Here’s the truth. I completed two drafts of my book without an outline. The result is pretty much what you’d expect.
Picture a dump truck, loaded with words. Now picture said dump truck emptying its load in my studio. See that messy mountain. That’s my book.
And that’s why I am in organization mode.
I separated out the writing, backstory, research, etcetera into nine piles of files. Wrote about it too, right here
The nine-pile process directed me to work out the sections of my book, and this is where I am now. I am writing a list of phrases under each section heading, and at the end of this step I will have seven lists, each a full description of that particular section. I will have identified the themes, big and small, of my book.
I already know my next step. My awesome friend, Synchronicity, showed me an online image of a page from J. K. Rowling’s writing notes for Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix.
Her notes inspired me to see a grid for my book. Across the top is the themes. Down the side is the essay titles. A check mark or note in the intersecting box tells me, for example, this essay contains themes of love and fear, this essay is all about choice, and so on. What I am doing is sorting the essays into the sections.
What I am creating is a treasure map. At one glance, I will be able to see a snapshot of my next draft. The map will help me organize the order and flow of the essays. Gaps will show up. Themes that require trimming will show up. I have a feeling it will aid me in other ways I have not yet considered.
This is a perfect tool for me. I need to see both the big picture and the details when I am creating, and my treasure map does exactly this. I may be creating more grids as I continue the outlining process, more treasure maps that show me the big picture of my book.
Thank you, J. K. Rowling, for sharing some of your writing process and inspiring me.
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