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Developing a Timeline

clocks

Developing a Timeline.

Today I’m going to share a powerful — yet simple– tool that has improved the “big picture” of my story.

My timeline is a simple spreadsheet – Dates form the column headers, and the rows are free form, used for tracking developing threads and storylines.

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Since I’m already well into my first draft, I have dropped scenes/actions from my growing story into it. It’s already helped me track the complex and various themes/undercurrents at work. I’ve found some gaps to fill in, and believe I could have overlooked them by just reading back through what I’ve written. The timeline should result in a stronger, better story by helping me hit all my marks, and keep me from wandering too far off the story in dialog and scenes.

The spreadsheet helps visualize the components and characters of the story, and has helped me to see how they can weave together better. For example, I’ve already seen where earlier insertion of a character into the story eliminated the need for backstory later, and found opportunities for dropping bread crumbs and background hints that will tie together later on.

Early in the outlining process for this novel, I developed a timeline for my character back stories, and it was extremely helpful. I thought through what drives my players. But using a timeline for the main story just seemed too complex.  Building it now , I can now see how it’s a great tool to use while writing, and imagine revising will benefit as well.

Many writers prefer using sticky notes– or 3×5 cards– pinned/taped to a board or wall that serves the same function as a spreadsheet.  Personally, I’m not disciplined enough for that, and find a spreadsheet is much more forgiving.  I love the flexibility a spreadsheet offers.  For instance, I’ve just decided it would be helpful to color code Point of View into the timeline. I  believe it will help me examine which character has the best POV for the action/scene unfolding.

Do you have tools, tips, tricks or suggestions that help you develop your story?I’d love to hear from you.

 

I’m adding this to my “Lessons learned” list!

16.  Develop a Timeline for your Story. A spreadsheet, or sticky notes/3×5 cards can be used to see the character interactions, story development, plot line and twists, and help you see the “bigger picture” of the story you are writing as it will unfold for the reader. Simple and powerful tool to keep your writing on track and coherent!

 

To see all the lessons to date, click here:   Go to Lessons I’m Learning….

 

 

 

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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Writing the Book

 

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Back to Basics – Punctuation

Way past time I take punctuation seriously.  These two tomes have moved up on my study list:

Strunk

chicago

 

Reluctantly –  with worry lines furrowing my brow – I am studying basic punctuation.  It has been brought to my attention that I overuse, misuse, and frivolously use my nemesis:

   THE COMMA

I admit, I never paid attention to the correct use of that punctuation mark in school or since.  Years ago I studied medical transcription, and I nailed 97% of the course. My downfall: that dang comma. I was torn apart by the teacher for being oblivious to this basic form of punctuation. She was baffled.  More recently, I lost points in a writing contest for comma transgressions. The judge gave me 100% on everything else, but on punctuation: 50%. Once again, comma mucking ruined my chances.

I had hoped to slip out the back door on this issue during my lifetime, but it is becoming obvious I am going to have to work through this.   I have overcome other areas, and this too will come (I hope).

I just need to find the proper motivation. With the Lord’s grace.

I have subscribed to the “put ’em wherever they feel right” method, and I am now becoming “comma-phobic.” My eyes glaze over, and I can only manage to skim read through the examples. Makes me feel downright silly, it does!  (also over use exclamation points, and just avoid semi-colons).

There, confession is good for the soul.  My new year’s resolution is to the master the COMMA.

So far, I have been pleasantly surprised as I re-read (or more truthfully, first time I didn’t skim read)  “The Elements of Style.”  I found it easy to read and even interesting. Amazing.

The Chicago Manual of Style, however, is still a blur!

 

— Peggy

THE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

The White haired Shooter

The White haired Shooter

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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Retirement!

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It’s official! I have joined the ranks of the retired. Actually just changed vocations, will now be working full time alongside hubby in his leather business.

It’s been just two days, but I definitely feel more relaxed and have more energy. I am no longer pulled in different directions. I like!

Update on the book:  I am working on developing  depth in the main characters, and have outlined quite a bit of the story.  I am still working through a couple of books on fiction and novel writing, and putting what I learn into some unrelated short stories for “practice.”  The actual “White Haired Shooter” non-fiction book is starting to take on more shape.

I’m am very excited about this project, and will keep posting my progress here.

— Peggy

THE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

The White haired Shooter

The White haired Shooter

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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An Update on The White Haired Shooter

 

I’ve been stretched for time, having to choose what I want to do with the waking hours these past few months! This blog has been one of those things in my life’s pile of “gotta do’s” – along with the housework!  Both are very important to me, just haven’t figured out how to expand the hours and minutes the good Lord has blessed me with to fit it all in.

Retirement from my “day job” is scheduled for the middle of October, and unexpectedly taking more brain cells than I expected. Suddenly the owners of the company are paying attention to my departure, and I am doing a lot of training!  Glad to see the years I put in were valuable to them, but it’s kind of exhausting. While my hours at “work” have been greatly reduced, it is taking me most of the day before I go in and the day after I complete my duties there to recover.  Who knew!

Continuing with my efforts of getting my writing skills up to speed, and in the process I have come to some profound decisions on the structure of the book.

I am still putting together a nuts and bolts “handbook” of shooting aimed (hahaha) at the mature woman, but I have decided to fictionalize most of discussion of the issues a mature woman faces – from the fears and physical issues involved in deciding to own a gun and learning to shoot, to some of the more basic components of finding classes, need for practice, etc. In other words I want to “SHOW” rather than “TELL” the narrative underlying issues, and develop a few characters to help with that. Also planning on a “twist” of having the WhiteHaired Shooter as character in the book, and present the training manual along with the story…  Least that’s where I am heading. They will be separate, but integrated.  What I don’t want to end up with is a “training manual” that might sell, but very few of my target audience want to read it all the way through. By presenting (hopefully) an engaging story, I want my characters to speak and help reach my readers. Entertain while educating.

I never did approach life in a straight line manner, zig and zag has always been my rather warped style!  Don’t know why I expected anything different, especially since I released my inner child from her bondage!

So, back to sharpening the skills and the pencils! Story arcs, plot twists, character development, and writing lots of unrelated flash fiction and short stories for practice!  And somehow keep a log of my journey in this blog. I’m thinking and hoping that the actual retirement mid-October will assist in that!

Back to hitting the books!

— Peggy

THE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

The White haired Shooter

The White haired Shooter

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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Self Editing For Fiction Writers, by Browne & King

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This book is an amazing resource! It’s been around since 1993, and I picked up a used copy on Amazon for about $4.

Working my way through it now, and if you haven’t heard of it or read it, and you write fiction, or are learning to write fiction, I would recommend it!

Any one else out there read/studied this?

Do you have any other gems you’ve come across?

 

— Peggy

THE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

The White haired Shooter

The White haired Shooter

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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Learning the Craft

I am sure those who have been writing for years, and particularly those who are published, have read a lot of statements by “aspiring writers” that provide a good chuckle.

One statement from many unpublished writers, is that writing a novel is “easy.” And I believe it can be! Words flow in torrents from the brain to the finger tips!

But is it any good?

Is it captivating?

Does “clever” use of language alone grip a reader and carry a plot?

Are the characters believable and have depth so the reader loves (or hates) them?

Does it have what it takes to stand out from among all the other novels/books available?

Why would anyone want to read it, even if it is self published?

Writing is both an ART and a CRAFT.

The ART part (the flowing words mentioned above) may indeed come easy to some fortunate few.  Many books are written by “novice” or “newbie” writers relying on pure talent and bravado.  Some are excellent, some not so much. Writing the “next one” is where the well often goes dry, and the struggle begins; or alternatively a long list of poor plots and characters begins.

But ART alone, and having a fair grasp of grammar, large vocabulary, and an ability to organize and present language won’t cut it in the long run.

That’s where the CRAFT of writing comes in to play. Honing the craft comes from experience and training (only rarely is it a gift.) It must be learned and earned. The tricks and tools of the trade, along with rules and guidelines exist for good reason.

Personally, I’ve slowed down on the non fiction book a bit, and decided it’s time to take advantage of the amazing resources available to learn the craft. I’ve begun writing short stories and flash fiction while studying the craft side of writing, and taking advantage of some wonderful tools this age of the internet has bestowed upon us!

I believe that will affect the quality of my non fiction book as well!

 

— Peggy

THE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

The White haired Shooter

The White haired Shooter

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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The Blogdom of WordPress

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Having just started blogging January of this year, I am a bonafide newbie in the amazingly rich world of WordPress.  I know how short sighted my initial expectations of blogging were, and still apparently are.

When I first started,  I saw WordPress as a place for me to “blog” (big duh huh)! I also saw value in  “test marketing” my ideas to see if they had enough merit for a book. I was very naive.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I had joined an interactive community of wordsmiths and artists that are awesome human beings to boot.  I have enjoyed building quality relationships, and been impressed with the atmosphere of genuine sharing and caring.

I am just now beginning to scratch the surface of resources, writing groups, critiques, and skill building that goes on here. I’ve learned to pay attention to comments on the blogs I read, and follow them back to other blogs that open new vistas. Wow.

What a place!  I am so glad to be part of it, and really enjoy the opportunities for growth, and look forward to the next revelations WordPress Blogdom presents!

 

— Peggy

THE WHITE HAIRED SHOOTER

The White haired Shooter

The White haired Shooter

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2014 in Writing the Book

 

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