I start most of my novels as a pantser, but at some point, I pull out all my organizational tools and start plotting and planning. As a visual person, I like exploring plot and scenes in visual ways.
Old School Tools
In early November, I spoke with Emma Kress on Instagram Live about some of my favorite low key tools, like highlighter pens, Post-it notes, index cards, and poster boards. Check out our 15-minute talk, and while you're at it, bookmark Emma's page for other excellent craft chats she hosted during NaNoWriMo.
These are the tools I talked about: (1) a plot arc chart, where I draw an arc and place external plot points on the outside and internal ones on the inside; (2) Lisa Cron's scene cards from her book Story Genius (see this blog post explaining them); (3) Kate Messner's Big Revision Chart; and (4) a poster board with different colored Post-Its for different POVs.
(my plot arc chart from Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation - coming in June)
(my index cards from my current WIP)
(my board with POVs of my current WIP, 2 POVs in blue and yellow, special scenes in pink)
What I really want to talk about is Trello Boards. It's an online project management website where you can organize your tasks and To Dos and collaborate with work colleagues on joint projects.
The Usual Use: Project Management
Here's a screenshot of my To Do board. Each of the columns can be moved, and there are more columns to the right as you scroll. Each card can be opened to include more details, like lists or links. I have a mix of subject columns and day-by-day columns. When you're done with a task, you can archive the card, or move it to a "Done" column.
Trello Board for World Building
I like to use Trello boards for world building. I treat my board as a Wikipedia where I gather or make up all the information about my world. For Hana Hsu, I wrote a bunch of fake news articles for my future world set in 2053. They were included in my initial draft, but by the time it got to the submission stage, I had already taken them out. In the final story, there are 2-3 line news snippets, but the full articles exist on my Trello board. I included another column for links to the real life articles that inspired bits of the story and have other columns for different aspects of the world.
Here's my Hana World Building board (more columns as you scroll to the right).
If I click the first card under Fake News, this fake article I wrote opens up:
If I click on the card "Overview: Corporate Control," I get this write up that I did:
As you can see, in each card, you can add links, checklists, etc. The sky's the limit as to how you can use your Trello boards. For example, I also use them to do my character work:
Hana Hsu Cover!
Earlier this month, I revealed the cover for my middle grade sci-fi, Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation, coming out on June 21, 2022. Isn't it so cool? I love pulling it up on my phone and staring at it. The amazing art is by Fiona Hsieh, and the design is by Jessica Jenkins. Feel free to pre-order your copy now! (save your receipt for my future pre-order campaign)
E-ARC and Pre-order Giveaway!
To celebrate the cover reveal, I'm giving away two prizes (to 2 people): (1) a digital e-ARC when it is ready, and (2) a pre-ordered copy of Hana Hsu.
1. You must subscribe to this newsletter. (If you reached this link from an outside source, click here:
2. Reply to this email (or to the welcome email if you just subscribed) with your one word intention for 2022. Mine will be "Focus" and "Breathe" (ok that's two words; feel free to add more than one word, if you can't decide)
3. Bonus entry: add Hana Hsu to your Goodreads "want to read" list (and let me know you've done so in your reply)
4. Giveaway ends on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.
Thank you, friends, for hanging out with me on my writing journey.
Hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and happy new year!
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