Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Putting Your Baby To Bed

Eventually all of us come to the glorious moment in our WIP when we get to type...

(If you never reach the end please email me privately and we will discuss an intervention.)

You've polished and edited and after 23 sets of revisions are ready to close the book.

Here's my process for putting my baby to bed and starting a new project.

First I collect the following from where ever they are hiding on my pc and stick them in the same folder:

1. time line spread sheets
2. notes-to include deleted scenes
3. synopsis short and long
4. the complete manuscript
5. research links
6. photos of characters and scenes

Then I save everything on

1. CD

2. hard drive

3. flash drive

4. external hard drive

5. Mail it to myself

On a real world level, I sort and organize all papers and photos and charts and put them into a three ring binder. All my WIPs are in similar binders. I learned the binder trick from Superromance author Rogenna Brewer.

Next is the most traumatic part of the entire process.

I clean my office.

Many of you have read my post that discusses my office issues. The point is we may never agree on levels of organization and clean. The above photo is my office...neat and tidy (in your world you may suspect a tornado has hit Denver and my neighborhood specifically). But, before I start a new writing venture, I bring my office back to the level of neat that works for me.

I am now ready to start my next WIP!!

I love office supplies. My favorites include: yellow legal pads, Foray highlighters, mechanical pencils, gel pens, multi-colored stickies, binder clips and neon paper clips.

A trip to either Staples or Office Depot or if I am flush...Target, is the next step.

1. A binder is chosen for the next project and the working title of the manuscript goes into the clear cover.

Next I begin printing out the various forms I use as story preparation.

2. An Excell spreadsheet for scenes. On the spread sheet I color each scene with pink or blue to show the hero and heroine's POV. I also use symbols to indicate eating scenes and romance scenes. I happen to be heavy on eating and too light on romance. I know, this shocks me too, but apparently it comes as no surprise to my husband.

The grid helps me keep track of the story time line as well as page count and POV.

3. Years ago I bought Caroline Green's Plot Doctor's Prescription for Plotting notebook.It includes every chart you could ever think of and I print a new copy for each new manuscript.

The Prescription for Plotting workbook includes worksheets which help with:

  1. Capturing the idea when it's still just a tiny spark.
  2. Characterization (none of those "what's his favorite ice cream" questions)
  3. Conflict, motivation, and goals
  4. Figuring out what should happen in the story, and when
  5. Writing the synopsis
  6. Making sure your scenes don't snooze
  7. Keeping track of your story's timeline
  8. Ending your story with a satisfying conclusion and character growth
  9. Keeping track of your daily writing productivity
  10. Making sure all your characters' names don't sound the same
  11. Tracking your submissions
  12. Coming up with alternative title possibilities
  13. Remembering people you may want to acknowledge in your dedication
  14. Taking advantage of publicity opportunities when your book is published
  15. And writing tools no writer should be without.

4. I pull out my copy of The Hero's Two Journeys by Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler and I create a chart for the new story after watching the DVDs again and getting my head into the new story.

The process includes:

Act 1:

Stage 1 Set Up
Turning Point #1 Opportunity

Stage 2 New Situation
Turning Point #2 Change of Plans
Stage 3 Progress

Act 2:

Turning Point #3 Point of No Return
Stage 4 Complications and Higher Stakes
Turning Point #4 Major Setback

Act 3:

Stage 5 Final Push
Turning Point #5 Climax
Stage 6 Aftermath

4. I prepare the Plotting Board for a quick visual help with the scenes. I use only pink and blue on mine. I use the board to easily move my scenes around. Then when I am satisfied I type it into the Excel spreadsheet.

4. I also keep Debra Dixon's GMC (Goal, Motivation and Conflict) on hand to begin plotting. I'm a pantser but even a pantser has to have some structure. Besides, no matter what I do I will always be a plotless wonder.

5. I also refer to several Seeker posts that assist me in the process.

Myra's WIP Management Tips

Conflict In Every Line

Some Deep POV Tips

Strong Emotional Reactions Part One and Part Two

Also Seeker guest Vince, did an excellent post that I use often: What Mega-Selling Authors Know That You Could Use To Boost Your Sales.

That's my process..what's yours?

Today I will draw the name of two Seekerville posting guests for a package of office supplies.
Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Now back to cleaning my office.


Helen Gray said...


After I type "The End" I float for about two days. Then I take a deep breath and clean the house, including the office. Catch up on neglected duties.

I have a bookcase behind my desk where all my 3-ring binder reside. There's one for each manuscript and one that's just hard copies of records of submissions, etc.

I don't use Excel for record keeping and plot grids, just plain old Word table. But the look a lot like what you depicted.


Ausjenny said...

Dont enter me I dont need office supplies (well I probably could use some but someone in america needs them more)
I love reading your thought process. You know your desk looks way more organized than mine. mine tends to get papers and it just grows and I dont write! well at present learning powerpoint and I still have tax stuff and that was finished early Oct!
But I did enjoy reading the process of writing.

Audra Harders said...

You captured it, baby! In all it's unrefined, gritty, tedious glory!

Ah, isn't writing fun -- and enabling? My office is off limits to anyone wielding a swiffer duster or paper shredder until I'm done with my curring WIP.

Of course, my kids used to angle my methods to THEIR best advantage. Mom, parents are role models, right? Why do I have to clean my room and you don't??

Answer? Dust is country accent (for my office); dirty clothing and forgotten snacks are science projects (keep them at school).

Thanks for the step-by-step guide, Tina! Mine methods are similar to yours only yours are WAAAAYYYY more organized : )

I'm printing this off as we speak since I'm starting a new WIP. Maybe one of these days I'll get this writing thing down to a fine art : )

I brought coffee and fresh fruit. Went to Sam's Club over the weekend and found to-die-for strawberries. Brought fat free whipped topping...wiggling into spring clothing is only a month away : )

Rose said...

Hmmm....I not quite as detailed as you Tina when I finish my WIP's.

Of course, I save my file on my PC and email it to myself, where I save it again on my laptop. I try to print out a copy and that is filed with all the research documents and notes that I used in a four drawer file cabinet. I've yet to start using grinds to keep track of my plot lines or character traits. I do keep a typed character sketch handy for the times I forget what color hair or eyes I've given someone.

When I'm ready to write the synopsis, I pull out Gail Gaymer Martin's book on writing a Christian romance, along with a blog entry of hers that I printed off eons ago to reference as I go.

After I hit the send the button or pay the postal clerk and that submission is on it's way, I straighten up my desk (note I didn't say clean) and start my next WIP.

Great post, I'm going to check out the links later today.

RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I am awestruck.

And unbelievably frightened.

And I will THINK OF THIS the next time I can't find something in an obscure mislabeled file and wish I had your level of procedure.

And then I'll console myself with a Sam's Club bag of M&M's and go on my way.

Tina, you make more of every minute of every day than anyone I know. And your organization (I LOVE the office and think it's the epitomy of organization, really, truly) shows in your beautiful work.

Now if we put Mary's post of yesterday against this one of today...

Oh mylanta, it's a wonder we all manage to get to The End.


I brought coffee. I'm late with it, but it's very delicious coffee from Dunkin Donuts. They provided us with their new white chocolate mocha AND their mocha cafe as well.

The Dunkin Dudes rock!

Bagels, donuts, muffins and egg wraps courtesy of Dunkin as well. I ran out of cooking time yesterday, in fact BETH cooked supper for us last night and we all know BETH does not cook.

But she made sweet and sour chicken and it was GREAT!

And then did dishes.


Of course she did fuss a bit that she can't find anything in my kitchen...


Which looks like Tina's office on a good day.


Janet Dean said...

Wonderful post, Tina! Loved reading your writing process from beginning to end. Well, perhaps it was more from end to beginning. You've given us lots of valuable information. I admire your organization. Even your desk. LOL

When I start a new story, I use Alicia Rasley's The Plotting Guidebook: The Story Within.

The coffee is piping hot. No time to cook, but I picked up apple fritters at the bakery. Yum!


Leigh said...

Good morning! Love the rundown of how you wrap everything up, Tina. Gotta pull it all together at some point.

I combine pieces and parts from several places to try and keep things on track as I'm working -- love Myra's tracking forms, use the first steps of Randy's Snowflake, have some forms I've created myself. My challenge is not getting so carried away with charts and color coding that I never get around to actually writing.

I've decided I'm a semi-plotter -- I like to get the general/important things in my mind and on paper, but don't have the patience to write scene summaries for everything beforehand. I know where I want things to go and just let the characters take me there.

And I'm with you on the office supplies front -- love them! Nothing like a new pack of highlighters or sticky notes. :-) When DD was in kindergarten they made lots of cute Mother's Day things for us. For one, they had to tell the teacher where Mom likes to go while they were at school. My daughter's answer? Staples and Kroger.

Yes, that's the exciting life I lead. :-)

leigh at leighdelozier dot com

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, dear God, I'm going back to bed ...

Julie Lessman said...

You know, Tina, it's downright SCARY how different two authors can be, and your post this morning proves it. Like Ruthy, I am in awe ... tinged with more than a little fear, I assure you, as I sit here slack-jawed at your organizational skills, thirst for learning and mind-boggling efficiency.

On my first book, my prep/plotting time was to fix myself a cup of hazelnut cinnamon coffee, go to the bathroom and light a candle. I then sat down and wrote a first line that took me away. I noticed it was more complicated on books 2 and 3, for which I actually created sketchy synopses and an age/birthday/anniversary chart, a process that had me puffing my chest out with pride. Books 4 and 5 graduated to more detailed synopses and a scene-plotting sheet. I was proud of myself before I read this post this morning. Now I think I need intervention ...

Seriously, you absolutely AMAZE me with your methods and I would give anything if I was more like you, but alas, I already have enough tics in my eye ...


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Well I am home with a bad cold today. Go figure. I have to find a way to remember to take my vitamins. Any clues? Perhaps I should set the alarm on my iTouch to remind me.

The important thing to remember is to do what works for you.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

LOL, Jenny, "someone in America needs them more."

Jules, no need to tic. I thought this was a rather simplified method.

I am a revise as you go person, so really, by the time I get to the real end I have revised 23 times.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Oh, Tina, I so need to clean my office. I've written four books and started two more and yet I've never really cleaned my office. Yes, it's true. So I admire you, Tina. (Although my office doesn't look as messy as that picture you put up!!!)

When my desk gets too messy I declutter it a bit, but the thought of actually organizing my notes and notebooks and calendars and research into a recognizable system intimidates me so much. If I think about it too long I have to go take a nap.

Lisa Jordan said...

Oh, I love office supplies, too. A friend turned me onto Sharpie pens recently. Awesome! I'm about to put my manuscript to rest, so this is a very timely post for me. Thanks for sharing!!

I go through the computer files in that WIP's folder and delete anything unnecessary. Deleted scenes go in a main folder to be sorted for later books. Contest chapters are stored in the contest folder...to see how much I've grown as a writer. I revisit feedback to see if I've learned anything.

Before I finish my current manuscript, characters from my new WIP begin conversing with each other, so I have excitement to start something fresh.

I'm using Susan May Warren's Inside...Out book and the information I've learned from the My Book Therapy retreats to flesh out my characters. I have the Prescription for Plotting workbook, too, along with computer templates, but Susie's Inside...Out and new Deep and Wide books help me the most.

Looking forward to typing The End.

Edwina said...

Tina - Great info! I love the process of putting the baby to bed and preparing for the next book!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Well see, LISA doesn't think I am excessive. She is too. Love you Lisa!!!

Helen, two points for you for being almost as organized as me!!

Melanie my desk is not messy, it is drawer free. There is a difference.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Leigh, I always thought everyone drooled over office supplies. They are recreational drugs for writers.

Rose, you have to send me that blog post sometime. I would love to read it.

Morning, Edwina!!

Georgiana said...

Your process is so organized! I love hearing how other writers work, especially since I have been so haphazard lately.

Oh, and I have a long standing love of office supplies. IS there anything better than a trip to Staples?

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Georgiana, you are sooo right. It is my favorite addiction.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Let's vote on if we think Ruth is being serious.

She seriously thinks I am a nut case.

Kav said...

Well, I think I needed to read that this morning since there is absolutely no method to my madness and I've been negligent about alternative back up methods (love how many times you back your finished work up after typing 'The End'!) Alas, I learned the hard way and lost a ton of stuff when my computer gave up the ghost. Have I learned my lesson well? Nope, because I haven't backed up my laptop at all. I will repent of that now!

And thanks for laying out how you start a new WIP. I must confess I'm haphazard about that as well. I think I need to go to remedial writing school...or sit in the corner with a dunce cap on since practically none of what you have suggested ever occurred to me!!! I have so much to learn...heavy sigh!

Erica Vetsch said...

Tina, after I read #2 I had to stop for awhile because I was laughing too hard. You are soooo funny!

My plotting process definitely involves the plot board. I am in love with that thing! Thank you, Seekerville, for posting about the plot board!

I use GMC by Dixon too, re-reading it cover to cover before starting a new plot.

As for your office...

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Wow good stuff Tina! Isn't organized chaos the best. I swear when I clean it when I can't find anything lol.

When I have more time I will go click happy and check out the links.

KC Frantzen said...


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Kav, really it's all about what works for you.

It took me a long time to figure out what works for me. I don't fill out all the Plot Doctor handouts but they are there if I need them.

For example--the one for names. I put all my character names in there for my January 2011 Steeple Hill Release The Rancher's Reunion. I realized how many ended with ie. So had to change a few.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Erica, I wish I was just being humorous. It was the truth.

If I could eat my way through a novel I would. The characters would have breakfast, lunch, dinner and two healthy snacks together. Who needs romance when you have good food. Ask Ruthy!!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Kerri, you got it. I know where everything is. However the minute I clean the place I can't find a darn thing.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Ditto that Erica.

I read the entire book for each new WIP. Same with the Hero's Two Journeys DVD and Michael Hauge's CD from RWA Nationals on Identity and Essence.

Mary Connealy said...

You make me ashamed to call myself an author.

Hanging my head. :(

Mary Connealy said...

Why don't you create a spreadsheet about your vitamins, girl? Worth a try.

Mary Connealy said...

I'm staring at my desk and just wanted to add....

You all know you can reuse Kleenex many times, right? No sense throwing them away the first time.

It's my version of being 'green.'

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Okay that is just gross. We will take up a collection and send you eco tissue.

Yes, I am working on a vitamin spreadsheet as we speak, er ,,type.

Mary Connealy said...

I think you're misreading Ruthy. She doesn't think you're a nut case. She's in awe.

Those two things sounds kind of the same in a blog comment

Debra E Marvin said...

I feel so utterly normal here. I mean, as normal as anyone here in Seekerville.


Mary Connealy said...

Let's call it diversity, Debra. Aren't we supposed to celebrate that?

Think of it as.....DUMBO...the elephant with the big ears?

The things that make us different are the things that make us special.

Let's all hold hands and sing "Pink Elephants On Parade"

Tina Pinson said...

I can honestly say I have saved and then sent a pack to myself in the mail. I also sent one to a couple of my sisters...incase of fire or flood. I'm not as intensive with what I save, but I am adding more.

Now does that mean I'm organized? I'm laughing now. I guess I could say I have areas of organization. Check out my cupboards they are a bit out now, but I put those is order by alphabet and move the used to the front as I restock.

Something funny to note... I don't always type 'the end' when I finish a story. I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm sad to have to put the baby to bed. HMMM.

my word verification is Ramen so soups on for lunch

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I read Dumbo to the liliputians just yesterday...

Poor misunderstood elephant. I think we can all relate. (giggling out loud...)

And yes, Tina, you know me. I am in awe... and more-than-slight trepidation.

But mostly awe.

However it IS lunchtime here in the east and you guys need food after taking all this in.

(KAV... call me. We'll do lunch. Talk about normal people. Mary can come too. And Debra. And anyone else who trembles in Seekerville today.)

So since we sugared out at breakfast I've got a NY Deli lunch going on....

Imagine the HUGEST, MOST MEAT EVER piled-high sandwich you can attempt to bite into.


Carnegie Deli. Every time I hear Adam Sandler sing the Chanukah song I imagine a Carnegie Deli pastrami on rye... Oh my stars...

And loaded cheese fries.

And fruit for those of you who still think you've got time before swimsuit season. (The rest of us have just decided to order tents from Omar the Tentmaker and be done with it)

And sweet tea with a nod toward our Southern Seekervillians....

And diet soda (a trade-off for the cheese fries)

And flavored coffee.

And plain old joe.

God is good. We have amazing choices in this country. I'm sending thanks upward from all of us!


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Oh, look, speaking of organization...Ms. Pinson. How are you organizing your awards these days?

Mademoiselle P won the Fantasy/SF/Allegory type category of the Phoenix Rattler.


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Sorry, Debra, didn't see you sneak in her with Mary.

Who are you calling normal, young lady?

Anonymous said...

Such a great post! I do love office supplies and have a hard time finding them since moving to country so would appreciate winning any!! Thanks!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

TINA P.!!!!!

Super Congrats, my friend!!!!

Toot!!! Toot!!!! Toot!!!!!

(That's me tooting your horn for you!)

Good job, Ms. All Around.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Jackie, you moved to the country? Which country?

I love legal pads. My favorite. So much promise in one brand new shiny YELLOW legal pad.

Walt M said...


I have typed "The End" twice. My wife did not understand my sudden need for the caloric bomb known as a mocha. (Speaking of which, Einstein's is gives away free double calorie mochas each month.)

However, the Target where I live is cheape than either Office Depot or Staples, though I ue Wal-Mart for much of my supplies.

I think my files more resemble Ruthie's.

As for my reseach, I keep that in a binder.


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Going to Google, Einstein Mochas free giveaway right now, Walt. I am sure the rest of what you said was very useful too but I got distracted at the word FREE.

denise said...

I feel like I need to get organized now!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Hi Denise. As you should, young lady.

Guilt is our middle name. Our first name is chocolate.

Myra Johnson said...

Wow, Tina! I'm impressed!

Oooooh, I love office supplies, too! I love just wandering the Office Depot aisles and trying to come up with a good reason to buy more tablets, sticky notes, envelopes, or pens that I already have too many of.

However, on plotting systems, I think I've experimented with just about every one known to humankind. And I STILL cannot plot my way out of a paper bag. I am a confirmed SOTP-er. My philosophy: write first, fill in charts later.

And Mary. We must be twins separated at birth. I finally had to clear out my collection of partially used tissues the other day.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Thank you for being impressed, MJ.

Now go toss the tissues. You can do it.

Lisa Jordan said...

Tina, I typed THE END today!!!!!!! WOOOOOO HOOOOO!!! Great feeling!!!

Pam Hillman said...

Wow, Tina! Loved reading your process.

For such an organized person, I'm woefully UNORGANIZED when writing.


Ruthy's right.

I'm TOO organized. Or I WANT to be too organized, and that's where the problem comes in.


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...



And Jessica Nelson typed THE END this week also.

Way to go!!!!!

Dancing on the island tonight. The End party!!! Sandra, Pam, sorry you have to clean up. Company coming.

Tina Pinson said...

Tina, Ruth,

thanks for the toot. As for my awards... I've built myself a wall unit to Hold them all. It's 2x2x1

you guys at Seekerville are the best thanks for all you're instruction, encouragement, and butt kicks.

Cindy W. said...

Wow! I really enjoyed reading your process of creating.

I would love a chance to win office supplies...I could spend hours in an office supply store...really! :)

Thank you for all the great ideas!

Cindy W.


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Mostly butt kicks right, T?

Hey Cindy!!!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

BTW for those of you who are thinking about contests a few of the Seekers are judging an opening lines contest over at Chocolate Reality.

So stop over there. Deadline is Saturday night.


Steena Holmes said...

When I type the end I eat chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Every single time I have to change my ending ;)

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...


Tina Pinson said...

Yes Ms T some excellent butt kicks but might I suggest you stop wearing Miss Mary's boots


Walt M said...

The free mochas are a coupon (good with the purchase of any other item). Last month, it was chocolate-covered strawberry mochas.

I just checked. This month, the coupon is for a chocolate almond latte.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Walt, where did you get the coupon? I looked online with no luck. Should I go in the store? Should I fly to Georgia?

Anonymous said...

loved this posting....an i absolutley love office supplies :)


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Thanks Karen. What's your favorite office supply? I mean if you were on a desert island and could only take two with you, besides your laptop with an endless power supply. Which two???

Debby Giusti said...

Oh, my gosh, Tina!!! Great info! Love it. Thanks for all the tips and helpful handouts. This one is a cut and paste and save forever.

No wonder I love you...my office looks like yours. You must be visual. I have to keep everything out so I can SEE it!

Really like the one notebook idea. Very nice.

Going back to my desk to start reorganizing.

Debra E Marvin said...

Ruthy, just wanted you to know I've had a Carnegie Deli Pastrami on Rye.

Now, that's a sandwich.

Okay, I'm going to admit now that I could be happy to use all that organization Tina. I'm going to use the plotting book...for the next one.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Debra!!! You mean GMC?

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Teenster, I love you even more right now than I did already! Why? Because the photo of your office has validated me as a normal human being! Your work space looks just like mine!! I'm so relieved! :)

Thanks for sharing your process. I'm amazed at how similar we are. But what's also interesting is you call yourself a pantster, while I tend to call myself a plotter. Maybe we're both just planners. :)


Missy Tippens said...

Tina, I'm sorry to hear you're sick. I've had a cold for a week. Felt better yesterday, then like crud again today. This is one bad virus.

And Mary, I'm with you on the green Kleenex! I've been using and tossing them beside me on the couch all week. (Well, I have been throwing them away whenever I get up. They're not a week old! LOL) But having a few there has been nice. If I'm in the middle of typing, I just grab one that has a dry corner. :) And then yesterday, I had the brilliant idea of putting a trash can beside me! Now I feel almost wasteful.


Missy Tippens said...

Yay, Tina P!! Congrats!

Missy Tippens said...

Yay, Lisa, on typing The End!! (and Jessica, too.)

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

We are both planners, Missy, but really the nasty tissues MUST GO!!! Immediately.

Recycle them if you like, but they must gooooo.

Janet Kerr said...

This is a wonderful post with great information. This guide is most helpful. Once again, thanks so much.

Susan Page Davis said...

Love it! I won't tell you what I do because it's not nearly so impressive or effective. Please put me in the drawing.

Carolyn Greene said...

Great blog! I love discovering how other people plot and plan (or not). You've intrigued me with your spreadsheet storyboard.

--Carolyn Greene (aka Plot Doctor)

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

THE PLOT DOCTOR STOPPED BY. Welcome to Seekerville!!!!

ebookauthor said...

I stand in awe of your organizational skills and discipline. I manage print a final final copy of the manuscript and fill a binder with that. Then scoop the rest into a box and label. The e-folder goes onto the backup hard drive. The box goes into the attic. I like to think of them as extra insulation. I'm sure the fire marshal would thnk otherwise. But I too have to find the surface of my desk before I start anew. Got to get back to the beginning.

To paraphrase from lolcats -- "I findz your process interesting; I may haz to steals it."
Connie Crow

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Thanks Connie, I consider that a compliment!!!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Rogenna called me a plotter today. I am shocked. I am not a plotter. I am not a plotter. I am not. And you can't make me fess up to it.