To Notecard or Not to Notecard

First of all, let me say up front that I have really enjoyed working on this book. I feel like I’ve learned more in the last two months about the process of writing than in the preceding two years. That being said, I am going to take a moment to gripe about how difficult I think it is to end chapters.

People reading this might immediately assume that I’ve got it all wrong. The end of a chapter is only a few lines, they say. How tough is that? Intuitively, this might make total sense. They assume it’s the big chunk of text between the beginning and the end that’s the tough part. This, friends, is what I call, “crazy talk.”

Before I go on, let me give you a little background on the timeline for my novel project.

I spent about a month before I even began writing, hashing out the general ideas of what I wanted to say. After a bunch of Google searches on the “best” way to plot a novel, I came up with a method that seemed like it might be pretty useful to me. I bought a couple stacks of note cards and jotted out ideas for the main scenes that I knew were necessary for my story. These were serious points of conflict between my protagonist and the world I had created for her. After I got down these major bumps in the plot, I started filling the gaps between the major scenes in order to develop how the conflict plays out. For instance, I knew the my protagonist was going to have a love interest, but I also knew that at some point that there would be some conflict surrounding the relationship when she found out a few bits of info about her new beau. The issue became how to reconcile these two events in a way that would make sense to the reader and also keep the plot interesting, and that’s where the additional note cards came into play. I filled up the space between two events, making sure that Event A made sense with Event B.

But see, all that plotting seems to have bound me up. In planning things out so much I left out one key ingredient: spontaneity. In the past, whenever I started a book I ended up fizzling out somewhere around a quarter of the way through. Because I had no idea where the thing was going–just an idea to work with–at some point I lost interest. To stop this from happening I decided to plot out the entire book, and in effect killed my ability to come up with a snappy and creative ending to chapters in an on-the-fly way.

Alas, all is not lost. While I may have planned a little too much, I have learned something very important about writing a book. You see, lots of people out there say they have the best way of writing a novel, but what I have found through this experience is that I need to find out what works for me and just try and kick ass at doing it.


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