A little over a year ago I wrote the first words of my first young adult novel. I didn’t have a plan, or an outline, just a couple of characters and a hint of an idea (that’s right, not even a complete idea). So, I just started writing – and I do mean writing, with pencil and paper. Page after page I scribbled down what ever came into my head. After about thirty pages I began trying to decipher my notes and copy them into the computer. It didn’t take long for me to realize it was easier to skip the first step and ditch the pencil and paper.
I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning, but kept at it. The plot changed over and over as the characters evolved. The more I wrote the better I got. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote, and then I wrote some more. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, now the process of editing.
I’ll break my novel into three main parts and my problem.
1. My protagonist, Melinda, is a present day sixteen year old girl. She’s a normal teenager, with not so normal problems.
2. My story started with a small prologue. Don’t cringe like I just said a bad word. I know a lot of people have issues with prologues. I was on the fence about it myself, but I needed to write a historical piece that would explain the world that Melinda was to uncover. Problem was, over time my small prologue grew. Eventually I had a prologue that was upwards of twenty pages. Not cool. But I felt that revealing more about the characters from the past, gave more weight to the journey in the present.
3. In addition to Melinda, I had Luke, a present day seventeen year old boy, and the link to the past that I mentioned. His story was unfolding at its’ own pace.
My problem – how do I cohesively blend these things together?
The process I used to overcome this obstacle was the very technical, not for the faint at heart. I call it Operation-sticky-notes. I had seen it done before, and wasn’t sure I could take it on, but I did.
Each sticky note represented a scene or chapter. I started by writing the time and place at the top, followed by some key points. Then I laid them all out in front of me and studied them. In no time at all, my chapters had found sequential heaven. What a great feeling when everything comes together and works!