Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Organizationally Challenged

by Stephanie Black

If you’re a regular Frog Blog reader, you’ve probably figured out—maybe because I’ve mentioned it about every other week—that I’m not a very organized person. I think people like Julie Bellon are amazing, and possibly superhuman due to radioactive bug bites. Not only is Julie a multi-published, successful author, but she teaches at BYU and raises seven kids and, I’m pretty sure, serves as Secretary of Defense and a judge on American Idol in her free time. I feel like my head is going to fall off at the thought of just getting my sons through scouting and Julie is so good at it that she wrote a book about how to get your son through scouting. See why I think Julie is so incredible?

Then there’s the marvelous Kerry Blair, who does more in a single day than I’ve done in my entire life—no, I am not exaggerating—and the brilliant Sariah Wilson, who writes in such an organized fashion that her first drafts are only a hairsbreadth away from being polished, publishable, final drafts. My first drafts are rather like someone was planning to make a chocolate cake, but changed the recipe twenty-three times along the way and then dropped the cake on the floor, at which point the dog ate it.

Yes, folks, I am an organizational weenie, surrounded by Wonder Women. What can you do? Nothing, if you’re me, because you’re too busy looking under couches for a lost shoe.

I’m currently working on the first draft of a new contemporary suspense novel. Working title is, um, novel5. Before I start a book, I need a general outline—I need to know where the story’s going—but I don’t have every scene planned, and I won’t know details until I write them. So when I finish a scene, or get stumped at other points, I turn to my brainstorming file, where I work out where to do next. Here’s an excerpt cut and pasted from recent brainstorming:

Really need to show the cops talking to Derek, because that’s what he’s been dreading. Or to bring Abigail back in, could have Derek call her, desperate

Seems like you need to shift to

If the note had been from Jolene—and who else would it be from—

Make chase know—jolene bragged to him about her romantic meeting or something?

So what do the police have?

Ethan making rounds at the park. He sees Jolene’s car. He goes to investigate. Finds her body. Is horrified. It’s obvious she’s been dead for several hours. He calls the police. They come. They question him. I’m a park service guy, yes I’m her ex, I found her like that. Police are suspicious, and they’ll look at him more once the coroner establishes a time of death.

And so on. Would you believe that from notes like this, I’ll eventually end up with a coherent novel? Yep, this is how my mind works. I need to type out ideas and hunt around until I find the story, and it’s going to take multiple drafts and multiple months of revising until it’s something publishable.

In other news, my novel scheduled for an August release has a new title—Methods of Madness. “Is it about serving in YW?” my first counselor wanted to know. Heh. No, I'm not organized enough to write a book like that, but I'm betting Julie could write a great one!


At 2/04/2009 5:10 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

I LOVE this! I have similar notes all over my manuscripts. I'm always amazed when the story actual turns out coherent.

At 2/04/2009 5:39 PM, Anonymous Amy said...

I don't know, Mom. You talk like that sometimes too. It's okay though. I'm not really worried.

At 2/04/2009 7:50 PM, Blogger Melanie J said...

Ha, ha! I totally relate to this at so many different levels. It's nice to know that I'm not crazy. Or that if I am, I'm not the only one.

At 2/04/2009 10:13 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

At least you know where to find all those notes when you need them. Mine are as slippery as all those Nephite treasures.

At 2/04/2009 10:41 PM, Blogger Nancy Campbell Allen said...

A girl after my own heart! At least you brainstorm on the computer. I scribble in notebooks.

At 2/05/2009 1:41 AM, Blogger David G. Woolley said...

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At 2/05/2009 1:47 AM, Blogger David G. Woolley said...

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At 2/05/2009 2:05 AM, Blogger David G. Woolley said...

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At 2/05/2009 10:55 AM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

I'm not so disorganized, but I do get distracted easily. I wish the radioative bug would bite me and give me super brain powers like Julie, too.

At 2/05/2009 2:51 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

I love the glimpse "behind the scenes" - it's great stuff!

I've written similar notes to myself on things I need to look up. (How long between the end of WWII and the Berlin Wall coming down? Can I use that?)

At 2/06/2009 1:40 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Ah, it's always so good to see that I'm not alone!

And I'm proud to share a day with Word Nerd Annette!


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