It was time to outline.
Instead of running screaming from the blog post, I decided to face it head on. So Wednesday, armed with a pen and a prayer, I set my entire novel to sticky notes. As I said...prepare to be impressed...and take notes for your kids and grandkids for when they have to analyze my novel in English class...ha, ha...
Isn't it beautiful? Each scene has its own sticky note, each chapter its own color.
You can't read it from the photo, but it's divided into acts--I have ACT 1, then the few chapters that comprise that, then the ACT 1 Climax, then ACT 2, then the Midpoint Climax, then the rest of Act 2--etc, etc. on to ACT 3, the final Climax/Resolution.
You may wonder...can't you just write your story any old way you want? Possibly. But the old way is a structured way. It's the way as human beings we like to hear a story. There's a flow, a growing of the character, there's build up, there's satisfying resolutions. Since this is my first attempt at a novel why not try what's tried and true. I think that's what will get an editor's attention...well, after they're hooked by the unique storyline and killer writing skills...again...ha, ha...
Thursday I began to analyze my story, which I can finally do because I can actually SEE IT. Before it was a jumbled mess in my brain, scattered through 26+ files in my computer. It overwhelmed me. So I moved a few sticky notes around (not too many it turns out) and I added a bunch where I need new scenes. I had major emotional epiphanies about my ending and how to broaden its scope (check out Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas if you don't know what I'm talking about)
Now my storyboard looks like this...all those yellow stickies at the far far right are things I need to add...
I took two pages, front and back, of notes for my book and printed off Alex's story structure list to use as my checklist. I was surprised to see that my story naturally contains the elements she talks about. Like Act 2 is comprised of laying out the MC's plan, the gathering of allies, then the tests (the blocks to the plan) begin and basically never end till the end. She talks about the "Dark Night of the Soul" moment when your character is at their very lowest point and there's no way they can go on, but...OK, getting carried away here... It's so fun, you should try it with your novel!
It inspired me to write on Thursday afternoon and to even clean up my writing area Thursday night--which was to the point of "I can't write in these conditions!" plus I wanted to be able to display the lovely storyboard on the shelf above my computer. Now it's right there in all its multi-colored, sticky note glory! Apparently, I'm a visual person and didn't know it.
Alex's blog series goes way beyond outlining and story structure--you should totally check it out. Thanks for the link, Elana.