There are many ways to plan and outline a book, and I’ve tried many over the years. From detailed plans written down in a notebook to scattered documents across my computer, I’ve had varying degrees of success. I’ve even tried “pantsing”, short for “writing by the seat of my pants,” which involves writing without a plan at all.
For years now, my go-to has been using the notecards in Scrivener to keep track of my notes. This is great because the notes are in the same document as the manuscript and I know everything is up-to-date at the same time. But it has its drawbacks because I can only open Scrivener on my laptop and I can’t access my notes anywhere else. So when I get an idea (like in the middle of the night), I have to grab my phone to jot it down and then remember to transfer it into Scrivener later. And then when I’m working on later stories in the same series, I have to open each previous Scrivener document to find my older notes.
For my newest book, I’m trying something new. Inspired by Brit Poe’s article on How to Outline Your Novel Using the Snowflake Method and Brittany Wang’s video on How to Outline a Novel Using Trello, I’ve created a Trello board to plot my novel, The Salty Witch. Here’s a sneak peek at how I’m organizing my notes and pictures for the story.
I’ve tried not to reveal too many spoilers in this image (which is why the Antagonist’s name is blacked out). But you can see how I keep all the details in one place like the cover, photos of locations from the book, character sheets, and then the plot expanded out from a single sentence into a paragraph. The second half of the board looks like this:
Where it continues to expand with longer summaries, and then the plot is broken down into scenes and acts.
I’m in the middle of writing this book right now and it’s been helpful to reference this board because I can see it on my desktop and on my phone. I can add ideas or work on it from either device whenever I want and I don’t have to worry about losing my notes. It’s also organized and I know which book the notes are for. I also love how the background is an image from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk which is an important location in the novel.
So I may continue using this tool in the future and even expand to more boards. It’s been great to help keep my thoughts together in a structured way. This makes it easy for me to keep up with my goals for Camp Nano this month. I’ll let you know how it goes when I finish the first draft.