Header image

How to organize your novel

August 1st, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Books | Perspectives - (0 Comments)

Orga­niz­ing a novel may seem like a daunt­ing task, but there are a few things that can min­i­mize the problems. Always orga­nize from the start.

Files on your computer:

1. Cre­ate a sin­gle folder named by book TITLE. Even­tu­ally this folder will con­tain other fold­ers and files that have to do with the title. Keep every­thing together. This may seem like a no brainer, but you’d be sur­prised how quickly things can get lost. Do not assume that you will remem­ber where you saved any­thing. Orga­nize it from the start.

2. Add sub­se­quent fold­ers and files inside the TITLE folder. For exam­ple, inside each TITLE folder make a TEXT folder. As the project pro­gresses you will need to add addi­tional fold­ers, such as: COVER, FORMAT, MARKETING, BLOG, INTERVIEWS, etc. In other words, each folder may con­tain fifty files, and you’re going to need to keep tract of them all.

3. Save your work con­stantly. Some writ­ers pre­fer to save chap­ters indi­vid­u­ally. Other writ­ers pre­fer to save every­thing as a sin­gle doc­u­ment. Either way works. Just make sure to label every­thing, and file it inside the appro­pri­ate folder.

Writ­ing your document:

4. Inside the TEXT document(s) use some kind of track­ing sys­tem so that you know what needs to be done. I pre­fer to use colors.

BLACK type means that I’m fairly sat­is­fied with a sec­tion. It means that I don’t intend to dump or alter the sto­ry­line, and will con­tinue to proof, edit, and mold until it’s finished.

BLUE means that I’m not quite sat­is­fied with the sto­ry­line, dia­log, or writ­ing, but that things are on the right track. I am com­mit­ted to these sec­tions and intend to make them work. (In real­ity any­thing can be cut.)

RED means trou­ble. Any­thing typed in red means that I’m still think­ing, which is why that sec­tion has not been deleted. Before this sec­tion goes from red to blue it may be altered beyond recognition.

There is a prob­lem with this color sys­tem. The red color bugs my eyes. So I copy and paste these sec­tions into a new doc­u­ment, work on them until sat­is­fied, then return them to the main body of text.

By using a track­ing sys­tem I can see at a glance the sec­tions that I want to work on. This is impor­tant because the cre­ative process doesn’t usu­ally coöper­ate chrono­log­i­cally. Some­times the mind gen­er­ates ideas for the mid­dle or end­ing, long before the begin­ning. By hav­ing a sys­tem I can eye­ball the text quickly and find exactly where I want to start typing.

5. Don’t com­pletely dump any­thing. Instead, save old ver­sions by date within the proper folder. Each time a mas­sive change is made, rename the doc­u­ment with the cur­rent date. This makes for easy retrieval when you wake up in the mid­dle of the night, blood puls­ing with ter­ror, and real­ize that you’ve dumped some­thing cru­cial. By sav­ing the new file with a dif­fer­ent date, both the old and new files still exist, mak­ing for an easy revival of a pre­vi­ously aban­doned idea. Keep in mind that with this sys­tem you will have mul­ti­ple doc­u­ments. Make sure to label and save them all CLEARLY.

Dou­ble check your writing:

6. Even if you are not accus­tom to using an out­line, make sure that one can be found in your writ­ing. If the chap­ters jump with­out orga­ni­za­tion the reader will have a hard time under­stand­ing your book. This is also a good tool for dou­ble check­ing the inte­rior of each chapter.

Clean up and Publication:

7. Once the book is fin­ished, clean up the files on your com­puter. If there were dumped sec­tions that might make for a new book, rename the doc­u­ments and move them into a new folder.

Next comes prepa­ra­tion for pub­li­ca­tion.  For help with man­u­script prepa­ra­tion and pub­li­ca­tion please see the arti­cle HERE.


July 23rd, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (0 Comments)

This is a loaded post. Be warned.…

Some writ­ers pre­fer to cre­ate char­ac­ters from per­sonal obser­va­tion. Not me. I don’t have a clue how to model a char­ac­ter after some­one I know. Nor would I want to. Rather, I’ve had a long­time fas­ci­na­tion with per­spec­tives. I like to take a sin­gle point and exploit the var­i­ous views. To me this is one of the more fas­ci­nat­ing aspects of writ­ing. And in the process, voila, an instant char­ac­ter is born.

Some­times this ten­dency to see other per­spec­tives cre­ates prob­lems for me in the real world. Par­tic­u­larly with regard to argu­ment, since I fre­quently see an oppos­ing point as read­ily as my own — except in the case of extrem­ists. Extrem­ists I do not understand.

Since I rarely post a polit­i­cal view­point, pre­pare yourself!

Take the Con­ti­nen­tal Congress: Oh my heav­ens! Talk about per­spec­tives. And I’m glad of it. It amazes me that the found­ing fathers were so var­ied. It’s shock­ing that they were able to come to an agree­ment at all, let alone in such a stun­ningly short amount of time. And yet, by con­sid­er­ing oppos­ing view­points a greater doc­u­ment was cre­ated, one which has served our nation faith­fully. For exam­ple, take Jef­fer­son and Hamil­ton. Hamil­ton thought the econ­omy should be based upon indus­try, Jef­fer­son on agri­cul­ture. Duh! We need both. Okay, hind­sight is twenty-twenty. Here’s another exam­ple: Hamil­ton was for a national bank­ing sys­tem. Jef­fer­son was against it. Now seri­ously, can you imag­ine if there were no national sys­tem today? But Jef­fer­son had a point. He could see the dan­ger. Only a decade after Pres­i­dent Clin­ton and con­gress lifted the bank­ing reg­u­la­tions we had a major eco­nomic collapse.

My point is, diver­sity is impor­tant in the polit­i­cal process. And yet with all the mud sling­ing, one would assume that there should only be one point of view. That those who dis­agree should just roll over and die. How very narrow.

If you ask me the real prob­lems come with cor­rup­tion, and sadly there is way too much of it. Lob­by­ing still rules con­gress now as much as ever, per­haps more so. When those who make the laws ben­e­fit from their exploita­tion there is a prob­lem. Pow­er­ful spe­cial inter­est groups advo­cate vehe­mently to the detri­ment of the weak. And most of the time this kind of lob­by­ing is done in secret. Not okay. Both repub­li­cans and democ­rats alike bow to the whims of money. It’s a sad tale. But I still believe in this nation.

I guess what I’m try­ing to say is, don’t give up on the polit­i­cal process. It is a good thing to hear (and express) oppos­ing points of view. It is our con­sti­tu­tional right.

Thank you found­ing fathers!

Learning from George

May 18th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Books | Perspectives - (0 Comments)



George Wash­ing­ton: Feb­ru­ary 22, 1732 - Decem­ber 14, 1799

I became a fan of George Wash­ing­ton when I was in sec­ond grade. Actu­ally, I saw the above paint­ing on a book cover in my ele­men­tary school library. Appar­ently it’s out of print now. As a lit­tle squirt I was so enam­ered by the beau­ti­ful horse that I picked it up and began to read. It didn’t take me long before I real­ized that George was some­one I wanted to know more about. And while I don’t claim to be an expert on his life, I do have a few thoughts worth sharing.

George Wash­ing­ton treated peo­ple with respect. It was one of his most dis­tin­guish­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics. He even cre­ated a book of eti­quette  that he was known to recite to him­self. Donna Young took these fab­u­lous say­ings and put them down for chil­dren. She turned them into pen­man­ship and spelling prac­tice. You can find the link here: George Washington’s Rule of Civil­ity. In mod­ern soci­ety these points are some­times for­got­ten, but it is my opin­ion that Wash­ing­ton was faced with no less dif­fi­culty than we. He lived in fron­tier Amer­ica. He led a starv­ing, ragged army. That fact alone is evi­dence that he faced more imbe­ciles than I ever will, and still he seemed to under­stand that it was impor­tant to treat peo­ple with courtesy.

Another point that awes me was Washington’s abil­ity to under­stand com­plex social issues with­out becom­ing sub­ject to social pres­sure. This is an abil­ity he seems to have honed over time. For exam­ple, his per­spec­tive on slav­ery changed quite dra­mat­i­cally. As a young man he accepted the prac­tice when he inher­ited an estate with a fam­ily tra­di­tion of slav­ery, but by the end of his life he had come to abhor it com­pletely. I find the lan­guage of his Last Will And Tes­ta­ment to be quite telling. For those slaves that would have been forced into finan­cial dif­fi­culty, he gave the option to remain on his estate as free men, appar­ently with­out charge.

I also find it inter­est­ing that while he was wildly pop­u­lar in the pub­lic eye, Wash­ing­ton had no polit­i­cal ambi­tions. His only goal was to pro­pel the gen­uine inter­est of the coun­try. Unlike most politi­cians today he would have pre­ferred to stay out of the pub­lic eye. Liv­ing at home was his life’s dream. But his coun­try needed him and so he did what was nec­es­sary. In the process every­one came to love him. He was known for his strong char­ac­ter, for always putting the country’s needs first, and for being the kind of man peo­ple could trust. While his con­stituents would have turned him into a king, he refused the post, set­ting the prece­dence for all future presidents.

There are so many points that put me in awe of this amaz­ing man, par­tic­u­larly his will­ing­ness to lead a poverty stricken army. Now that is a topic for a seven mil­lion word doc­u­ment. But I guess this is start­ing to sound more like a fan let­ter than an infor­ma­tive blog post. So rather than con­tinue to blather my points, I’ll just post a few more inter­est­ing links.

Inter­ac­tive portrait

Edu­ca­tional facts that are fun too

George Wash­ing­ton books for kids


Dare to dream

April 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (0 Comments)

 Years ago as I was leav­ing my child­hood home to go out on my own, my dad pulled me aside and gave me some won­der­ful advice. He said, “If you don’t take care of your­self, no one else will.” I have thought on his words time and again. At first I didn’t quite under­stand what he meant. It didn’t take long. Once I was in my new col­lege envi­ron­ment I began to see the wis­dom in those words. By the way I’m not talk­ing about self­ish notions here. The scope of tak­ing care of one­self is vital to health and well­be­ing. Once I real­ized this a whole new under­stand­ing devel­oped. I real­ized that if I believed in me, I almost always accom­plished my goals. So that’s my tid-bit of advice. I ask you, why would any­one want to give up? Is there some grand prize in that? I don’t think so. And so I say to any­one who has ever had a dream, dare to believe. Dare to keep your dreams alive! Dare to face fail­ure and try your hard­est in the face of uncer­tainty. But most of all never, never, NEVER give up.


The Falls

March 22nd, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (0 Comments)

  Last year when my fam­ily went to Yel­low­stone we hiked down to the Lower Falls. And what an incred­i­ble sight it was! When that much water if fly­ing off a cliff, the size of your life seems awfully small. While we were there I noticed a few bits of garbage beyond the fence. Obvi­ously there was no way to retrieve it. Since lit­ter lit­er­ally bugs the heck out of me, I found it trou­bling. Then all at once it hit me. I was miss­ing the entire moment. Here I was in front of this tremen­dously awe­some sight, and I was focus­ing on these minute imper­fec­tions that no one could do any­thing about. It was one of those ah-ha moments that you never for­get. The world is full of beauty, but half the time I’m run­ning around try­ing to fix, fix, fix. Some­times there really is peace in stop­ping to enjoy the moments of our lives. It doesn’t take much effort. We just have to look at the big­ger picture.

They say, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I sure hope so, because I’ve been there a lot. Unlike Michael Jor­dan, no one has actu­ally kept track of my stats. But I can tell you this, I am very famil­iar with fail­ure. Prac­ti­cally in the same breath I can also add that I have had a num­ber of suc­cesses. You would think that sooner or later fail­ures would end. But they don’t. No mat­ter how suc­cess­ful, no mat­ter how accom­plished, fail­ure just hap­pens some­times. It’s a fact of life. So rather than giv­ing up before you try: Dare to dream. Dare to face fail­ure. Dare to try your hard­est in the face of uncer­tainty, and ulti­mately some mea­sure of suc­cess will be achieved.

About Crows, by John Ciardi

February 20th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (0 Comments)

  One of my favorites.


Audrey Hepburn’s Beauty Tips

February 15th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (0 Comments)


Report­edly, Audrey Hep­burn read this poem to her chil­dren on a reg­u­lar basis– pos­si­bly even nightly, which is why so many peo­ple have attrib­uted it to her. How­ever, it was actu­ally writ­ten by Sam Levenson.



I read The Diary of a Young Girl for the first time when I was in the vicin­ity of the fourth grade. It struck me so deeply that I started a diary of my own, and fol­low­ing in Anne’s foot­steps I gave my diary a name, Jenny. I’m sure you noticed the cor­re­la­tion. As an adult I am still in awe of this lit­tle girl, and highly rec­om­mend this book to read­ers of all ages.

For more great quotes from Anne, visit her wiki quote page.

Music Blog

February 9th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Music | Perspectives - (0 Comments)

For those who are new to this site, the music stu­dio tab is where I post music edu­ca­tion mate­ri­als. Believe it or not, it takes me a lot more effort to write these work­sheets than it does for my stu­dents to com­plete them. So you might won­der why I spend all that time cre­at­ing them — as you can see I have posted a lot! The answer is sim­ple. Although there are many fab­u­lous music method books cur­rently avail­able, most do not offer suf­fi­cient prac­tice, espe­cially with regards to rhythm. It’s a gripe a lot of teach­ers have. Don’t ask me why there are so few method books address­ing this issue. It cer­tainly doesn’t change the need. Rhyth­mic pro­fi­ciency is one of the great­est obsta­cles in a student’s abil­ity to sightread, and ulti­mate goal of inde­pen­dence. So I’ve done my part, small as it may seem. Print and prac­tice. That’s all there is to it.