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  1. #1
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    I am having the hardest time

    trying to get my book to behave. When I first wrote it, it came out in a jumble-- three stories, two different timelines. It's a mess. A few years ago, to try to get it into some semblance of order, I literally printed everything out, sat on my living room floor, and cut and pasted. Now I've come back to it after a few years, and I find it to be too messy still. Before I go the route of actual cutting and pasting again, I thought I'd ask if anybody else has any brilliant idea for what to do? It's making my brain hurt, all these different versions and revisions, bits and pieces excised here, waiting to be added back there, etc...

    Thanks



  2. #2
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    Okay, a follow-up question. I have OpenOffice. I think I remember that Word had a function where it would copy the first sentence of each paragraph of a document, and make an "outline" of the document that way. Or a summary. Whatever. Does anybody know what I'm talking about?

  3. #3
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    Susan,

    Try using a story board. Here is what I do, but you can modify it to your needs--

    Using a large bulletin board (you can find big ones at Staples), I write a one-sentence description of each major scene on separate index cards--one scene per card. Then I arrange those scene cards under the appropriate chapter headings on the bulletin board. This allows me to see the big picture. By looking at how the scenes are arranged, I can see if I have too many scene in one chapter, if two sequential chapters are too much alike, if I need another scene somewhere, if I need to cut or rearrange chapters, etc.

    It would also help you to write a synopsis of the book. You will need to do this anyway if you query agents. Write a one-paragraph summary of the events in each chapter. Keep your paragraphs short, no more than 3-4 sentences.

    Jeanne

  4. #4
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    Jeanne, thanks for the suggestion. I think I need a different approach, but did get started on something similar to what you described. I have so many flashbacks, different voices, etc. that I need to make sure each paragraph (as opposed to major scene) blends with those before and after. This might require actually printing the thing out, and cutting and pasting for real again. But I shall persevere. I have a feeling the first chapters are going to be the worst, so there's hope for the future.

  5. #5
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    Why does it feel muddled? Do you have too many characters (outside of the MC)? If so, try merging some of the secondary characters into one -- this worked great for me and helped codify the main storyline with some subplots. And focus on one MC if you have too many potential candidates; create a heirarchy of characters based on whose storyline is more engrossing and all-incompasing.

    If you have too many potential scenarios for your main storyline, pick the one most relevent to your (chosen) MC's central conflict even if it means disgarding some juicy scenarios (which can always be transplanetd in later ACTs or in the follow-up novel).

    Anyway, I'm no writing teacher but these are some of the obstacles I went through with my 64K MS :-)

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    I don't know that much about OpenOffice, but you can view your document in what's called Outline Mode. However, it's not much use if you don't use headings, which I presume you don't in a novel. In Word (before 2010), there were three little page icons at the lower left of your screen. Clicking on one displayed a different viewing mode. I think they were called Layout, Draft, and Outline. I don't know where those viewing modes would be in OpenOffice. In Word 2010, they are in the View tab, so maybe look under View if OpenOffice has that.
    Last edited by John Oberon; 08-21-2012 at 07:26 AM.

  7. #7
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    Good question, Lyle Ven. And I have a good, if unbelievable, answer. I wrote this book at a time when I had hours to spare, but had not written for a long time. I am comfortable with stream-of-consciousness, so as a warmup, I just wrote that way for a few days. After a very short time I could see that there were some really interesting voices emerging, that seemed to have nothing to do with me, so I stayed open to the process. Eventually a story emerged (even I could see that), but it was as if you'd taken a book and cut all the paragraphs apart separately, then put them in a bag, shook them, poured them back out. There was one character who I could not understand-- her time frame was different-- until it finally dawned on me one day that she was a ghost. Believe me, I wouldn't have voluntarily written a ghost story, but there she was, completely embedded in the story and hanging out in the attic. I know this sounds hard to believe, but it's true. So now I have the task of making order out of chaos. I'm not Henry James; no one will read this book as is.

  8. #8
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    Id suggest the program Scrivner from Literature and Latte for you. It does exactly what it sounds like you need. You can put each scene into its own document within Scrivner then move them around and when you compile (export) the full document it puts it all together and corrects formatting issues...aka if you like to write in some crazy font and you can choose the settings so it exports in the normal TNR or Courier

    Check it out there's a free 30 day trial of the full program with every feature and thing functioning. The program itself is only $40 and you can install it on as many computers as you want

  9. #9
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    Thanks, Shock. I'm going to try it.

  10. #10
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    I'm back, with two impressions of Scrivener. One, it might be okay if you had in on a Mac, and Two, it mibe okay if you were starting a new project with it. It is quite complex, with a very steep learning curve. I haven't completely given up on it yet, but I'm tending that way.

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