As I write this post, I am on the couch in half-dead in my pajamas, still shaking from the Dollar General-brand energy drink I chugged somewhere between midnight and 4 AM. During that time I questioned most of the choices that led me to this point. For company, I had a Google hangout of just-weird-enough people working to make a deadline.
No matter now, the words are out into the world.
Writing? Don’t I wish! I’m talking about a website launch. I’m a software development project manager by day – and sometimes night.
It’s no secret that being a mom in the tech world has been challenging for me, and probably not a path I’d choose again. As difficult as it’s been, there there are pieces I’ve carried from a development methodology (Agile)* that ironically inform my writing.
Since I’m exhaused and #authortoolboxbloghop in theory obligates people to read this, here goes:
Grossly oversimplified, Agile is about taking a business need (story idea) and progressively elaborating on it, adding increments and examining the whole until the product/software (manuscript) becomes done (ready for querying).
I’m a recovering pantser/trying to be a plotter, and have found a device called a “user story” to be invaluable in editing.
Official explanation is linked here, but a user story describes what you’re doing, why, and what that’s supposed to enable. Example below:
In theory, you could use a modified version of this to set up scenes in your plot like a row of dominoes. You can also insert/delete/move as need be… I didn’t say this was a perfect analogy.
Concrete example: In my second R&R on my current MS, I have a scene where my almost-thirteen-year-old MC has a glitter-and-candy-soaked, over-the-top, Willy-Wonka-meets-unicorn-and-glitter-everything birthday party thrown her by her childhood imaginary friends.
Originally, it helped Zoe (my MC) realize she had outgrown her childhood fantasy world.
In my revision, there was a slight shift in the main story arc, so I had to make this scene much creepier:
I plan to re-write the scene according to the above “outline” as soon as I get some sleep!
I’d love if you let me know in the comments – what “outside the box” methods do you use to outline/revise?
*Developed by a group of white dudes at a pricey ski resort in Utah back in the early 00s, Agile’s literal cult in the real world is absurdist fiction waiting to happen.