All writers are aware of the struggle of completing a book. We are overwhelmed with this perfect story idea, and our whole being screams at us to get it down on paper. Finally making it to our desk, we pull out a piece of paper or open a fresh document and begin to bring the story to life. Maybe you make it 20 chapters in, 20 pages in, or merely 20 words in, but at some point, a serious problem arises. You have no idea where this story is going, and you are only acquainted with your characters on the most basic level. There is no way you are going to be able to finish your masterpiece.
I am much more familiar with the above scenario than I would like to admit. The answer is simple, yet, diverse. Organization. Take it as you will, each writer has their own method to accomplishing this task, but I am going to introduce you to some of the most effective methods of organizing a story.
My all time favorite method is the “Snowflake Method” which is created by Randy Ingermanson. It is completely fool-proof. Although this is a very time intensive method, by the end of it, there is no way for you to be unable to finish your book. Starting with writing a one sentence summary for your novel all the way to completing your first draft, the snowflake walks you through writing a well developed outline for your book. You can find everything you need to know about the Snowflake Method on this website: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/
The Snowflake Method also includes a character chart section. A character chart is a basic chart, organizing info about your character from their favorite color to favorite childhood memory. It can be as basic or as detailed as you would like; the more detailed it is, the better you will know your character. Even if you choose not to follow this method, always, ALWAYS make character charts for your main characters.
If you have a deadline to finish your story, and you will not be able to complete the Snowflake Method, or you just don’t like that form of organization, don’t worry; there are many other alternatives. The “LOCK” principle by James Scott Bell uses an acronym to help with plotting your story. The simple “Three Act Structure” method breaks your book up into three acts and forces you to write events that will occur during each of the three acts. Finally, the “Mythic Structure/ Hero’s Journey” outline by Joseph Campbell and Chris Vogler has 12 detailed questions to help you begin formulating your novel.
By using these methods and countless others, you will be completely prepared to finish your story. Never again will you find yourself throwing away your masterpieces.