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John DeDakis

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· Ode to a Mentor (or Letter from the Grave)

· Hope Can Spring From Tragedy

· Whittling it Down

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5 Ways to Stay Organized While Writing a Novel
By John DeDakis
Last edited: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2009



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Recent articles by
John DeDakis

• A Son Remembers His WWII Dad
• Remembering Dad on Veterans Day
• I'm Afraid to Write!
• Wow
• Behind the Scenes in a Troubled Newsroom
• Who Should Direct the Movie of my Novel?
• Why I'm a Man Writing as a Woman
           >> View all 27

Some Lessons I'm Learning Along the Writing Path






 Some lessons I'm learning along the writing path:

1. Create a Master Plan Document: This is a living, breathing, evolving document. It contains a Daily Writing Log, plus my plot outline, key pivot points, and a brief summary of each chapter.

 

2. Keep a Daily Writing Log: For the sake of simplicity, I put it at the top of the Master Plan. The log documents each writing session by date and time. Nothing elaborate here, just a few quick notes of what I hope to accomplish and how my thinking/writing is evolving. It's a narrative history of how the book is being created. I can easily find my place because in all caps and in big, bold, bright red lettering I put the words, THIS IS WHERE I AM NOW. I just scroll down until I see red (so to speak) and then add the next entry.

 

3. Keep Track of Changes: As the story unfolds, the chapters in my Master Plan change, but rather than obliterating the old, I merely add the new information along with the date I made the change. By doing this, I'm creating and preserving the history of how the story evolved.

 

4. Create a New Folder for Each Draft: "Fast Track," my first novel, had 14 Draft Folders. My new book, "Bluff," to be released later this year, contains 8 Draft Folders. For my current novel - still untitled - I'm only on Draft #1.

 

5. Give Each Chapter a Name: Each Draft Folder contains the individual chapters - a separate file for each chapter. Numbering them keeps them in their proper order (1.1, 2.1 etc. For the second draft, the numbering sequence is 1.2, 2.2 etc.) But just as important as numbering, is giving your chapters titles. I don't mean a title that will ever see the light of day in your book - it's merely a memory prod so you know at a glance what's contained in the chapter. This way, you don't have to keep opening files later to find what you're looking for. (NOTE: Chapter numbers and titles may change from draft to draft because you'll probably be making lots of alterations, including reordering the sequence of things and breaking big chapters into several smaller ones.)

 

Final Thoughts:

I find that it's more efficient to write the novel straight through rather than continuing to loop back to make each sentence perfect. Why? Because it gives me a sense of accomplishment -- a realization that I can actually do it. It's purely psychological, the thinking being, "if I've already 'finished' the book, then the rest of my time is spent merely tweaking it."

 

Knowing up front that the first draft will suck takes the pressure off. The first draft serves mainly as exploration. As I write my third novel, I'm discovering that while my Master Outline has given me the story's scaffolding - the big picture - by writing individual chapters I'm, in effect, zooming in for a close-up in which new, and often unexpected, characters sashay on stage. Some of the chapters consist almost entirely of dialogue - almost no tags, no action, no description. That will come in subsequent drafts. For now, I'm just writing as fast as I can what I see in my head.

 

My way of staying organized is certainly NOT the only way, so I think we'd all benefit to hear what works (and doesn't work) for you.

 

Thanks! JD

 

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Reviewed by Jen Knox 10/6/2009
I'm going to venture fiction next, even though the story will largely be based on my grandmother's life. I have printed this up for reference. My lack of organization made my memoir incredibly difficult to write, so thank you for the practical, helpful advice. I'm ready to dig in... jen

Books by
John DeDakis



Troubled Water (Kindle Edition)

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Troubled Water

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Bluff (Paperback Edition)

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Bluff (Hardcover Edition)

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Bluff (Kindle Edition)

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Amazon, more..




Fast Track (Kindle Edition)

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Fast Track (Hardcover)

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