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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Organisational Matters

My office temping jobs instilled in me a mania for keeping things organised - at least as far as work is concerned. I like my bookshelves to be neat, my filing cabinet to be segregated and to know where I'm up to with any specific task. I don't know why it's taken me so long to create the two things I've completed in the last week considering the spreadsheet madness that has taken over my life since I started my PhD but these are two things I'm now using in my writing life:

Scene Analysis Spreadsheet
I'm fairly sure that I saw this idea on someone else's blog (and would credit if I could remember, honestly). I've gone through the latest draft of the first novel I completed. This is the one I completed for NaNoWriMo 2009 and which has undergone major changes since then. Nevertheless, I looked at it and knew there was still something missing. So I created a spreadsheet with the following categories to break each scene down into the sum of its parts and see exactly where I was:

Scene Number
Scene Description 
Scene Type
Protagonist's Goal
Protagonist's Motivation
Protagonist's Complication
Outcome/How Does Scene Affect Growth?

I'm using the exceptional book Make a Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfield to help me with the breakdowns and see whether each individual scene works. I've got thirty one chapters and eighty-five scenes to work with. The novel needs a lot of work but collapsing it into individual units to be assessed may make it seem less intimidating. I am, however, happy with the overall story and structure. That only took two years!

The Book of Ideas
Again, I know I borrowed this from someone else but I can't recall who. I've taken a huge notebook, about three hundred pages, and have listed all the current projects and ideas I have with notes detailing where I'm at with each of them. Each project has a whole page to itself, meaning I've got plenty of space to fill up with details later. It looks quite empty at the moment but I'm hoping that'll change. There are three things on each page - 'Subject', 'Format' and 'To Date'. What's intriguing - for me, anyway - is the breakdown I've currently got in different formats:

Prose (novel) - 11
Prose (short story) - 28
Script (play) - 2
Script (television drama) - 4
Script (radio drama) - 2
Script (film) - 1
Script (musical) - 1
Script (unsure) - 1
Unsure - 5

As you can tell, I have too many ideas! Documenting them like this will help me keep track of them and encourage me to work on the ideas I've already got instead of dreaming up new ones all the time. Well, that's the theory...

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