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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Organization for the Beginning Writer by Fran Shaff

Many times when I’m elbow deep in writing a first draft I forget simple things about my characters like the cut of his hair or the color of her eyes.  Sometimes I even forget a main character's name!  Shame on me. Maybe if I worked on only one book at a time…but I don’t.

Writing a book is a complicated process.  Whether she is writing a story, book, or screenplay, here is some advice a beginning author may find helpful.
When fleshing out character traits, it’s a good idea to put the names of all characters and their physical characteristics on individual note cards.  If the author forgets the eye color of the troll in chapter two when he reappears in chapter five, all he needs to do to remember is refer to his note card.

The same goes for settings.  If a writer uses a note card for each room, vehicle, garden, etc. he describes, he’ll easily be able to recall the color of the sofa his hero was sitting on in chapter one when he returns to sit on it in chapter ten.

Using a storyboard or writing a brief description of each scene and/or chapter in a notebook or on note cards helps the author remember how certain techniques were used or in what order events transpired. If a writer forgets whether or not he’d foreshadowed a chapter fifteen event in chapter four, he can refer to his notes or the storyboard to be sure he’d written his story as he’d intended.  It saves time while he’s in the throes of creation.

If proper preparation and note taking make a writer’s job easier when she’s writing one book, imagine how helpful note cards, storyboards, etc are when she decides to write a sequel or a series.  

One more tip about writer organization: keep those note cards and that storyboard handy.  They only help if a writer has ready access to them.
Fran Shaff is the author of more than a dozen contemporary and historical romances and young people’s books.  Get a free download of her acclaimed historical romanceChange of Heart at:  www.smashwords.com/books/view/8911 Visit her web page at:  http://sites.google.com/site/fshaff   She has two contemporary romances released May, 2010, Kelly and the Candidate and Stolen Son.

Stolen Son
By Fran Shaff
Contemporary Romance
Romance Reader at Heart Top Pick Award Winner
Paperback Edition, Create Space
ISBN:  9781438267821
E-book, Smashwords.com 
Available at Amazon.com, bn.comsmashwords.comkobo.com and other Internet locations 
For excerpts, reviews, buy links and more about Stolen Son, go to:  http://sites.google.com/site/franshaffsstolenson

BLURB:  For five years Ella Mason has mourned the kidnapping of her infant son. When Rafe Wallace enters her life, her dreary days begin to fill with sunshine. Hope, dreams, fantasy, love--emotions she’d never expected to find again become a part of her soul, thanks to Rafe’s tenderness and affection. But does he have an ulterior motive for establishing their relationship? And what does he have to do with her “Stolen Son?”


  1. I started making out chapter forms and I keep lists - glossary with where descriptions appear & character lists. Now I use the forms and colored tabs to track my threads. It helps. :D

    Great advice.

  2. This is awesome advice, Fran...and not just for new authors!