I've accumulated countless notes on Daisy and her life, the articles that were written about her, her own writings (both published and unpublished), the history of LOVE STORY, and the history of pulp fiction. I've also taken notes from all of Daisy's journals as well as anything noteworthy in her sister's and mother's diaries. All of my notes in Microsoft Word files, organized either by year or subject, and I even have an Excel file with significant events from the journals (with dozens and dozens and dozens of entries). And while I still have several large gaps in her life that I'm researching and I still have a lot of unanswered questions, I'm starting to feel overwhelmed by it all. This photo is of Daisy and her sister surrounded by copies of LOVE STORY, but it might as well be the inside of my head.
What do you all recommend? I guess this question would apply to nonfiction writers more than fiction writers, but then fiction writers, especially those who write novels, must go through some kind of sorting and filing of characters, plot lines, etc., right?
Some people would say, well you just start writing. But I can't. I'm one of those who needs to know where she's going and what she's trying to accomplish with each sentence, each paragraph, each chapter. Small wonder that I'm such a slow writer.
And what software do you use? Do you just pull up a new Microsoft Word document and start typing? I was thinking over the weekend that I kind of missed the old days in school when I used index cards. One card for each point or thought or quote, with any sources noted as well. Then I remembered that about two years ago when I wanted to be a screenwriter for about 15 minutes, and had bought a screenplay software (Movie Magic Screenwriter). This weekend I remembered that lo and behold, that software has an index card feature. Would it work for a book instead of a screenplay? Kind of. Each card has to have a "Scene" attached to it; I just started using categories such as Early life, Family Background, etc. I can cut and paste my notes into the index cards and then view them either on the screen or even print them. I think it might help me develop some kind of structure. I opened up a file and started copying over my notes onto the cards.
Some people might think it's crazy, maybe even a little anal, but I really do think it might help me. I've never been big on standard outlines. I hate them, in fact. But at the same time, I've always been a very visual person who needs to "see" something, rather than conjure it up in her head. Seeing a story, even if it's on 5 X 7 index cards mapped out on a bulletin board or even covering the living room carpet, will help me say, ok, this is it. I'm ready to write it now.
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