James Floyd Kelly

Writer and Swashbuckler-for-Hire

Busy Day… Yay!

So, I used up all the morning and part of the afternoon getting a couple of copyedit chapters returned to my editor as well as revising Chapter 15 for the NXT-G book – I did this to free up the rest of my afternoon to concentrate on filling in more blanks on the fiction story.  I like the Scene Cards but they make it difficult to work with when you’ve only got a small table to work on… (other customers are likely to give me ugly looks at Atlanta Bread Company if I start spreading them over the floor or taping them to the wall… )

So, I transferred some of my Scene Card concepts to a spreadsheet (see picture).  I have columns for Chapter number, name, major characters, location, and more… including notes.  I like this because it gives me a visual representation of the flow of the book.  For example, in the picture you can see a column of red/orange/yellow items – red indicates a Master scene – high action and critical story elements related to the overall plot – orange is Major scene and involves more action but does not contain critical information that will be required for a later chapter.  Minor (yellow) scenes are for filling in blanks and connecting action scenes… I’m trying to minimize them and go for a constant action storyline… difficult to do.  I’ve read novels that do this and they can sometimes be TOO much, too fast.  Still, for a kids book, the general concensus is that slower parts of the book need to be cut or kept to a minimum.

Along the right side of the image you’ll see items highlighted in green.  These indicate a matching Scene Card.  So I’ve now got 9 Scene Cards done (with a lot more detail than the spreadsheet contains)… and 13 scenes that need Scene Cards created… that leaves 8 more (for a total of 30 in a 30 chapter book).

What’s nice about the spreadsheet is I can move around items easily… making connecting Master Scenes easier, too.  I’ve got 10 chapters left to create and outline… I know a few key scenes that I haven’t created yet, but I need to come up with 1 or 2 more critical action scenes to fill out the book… then I can start writing.

In case you’re interested, this is how I often outline a non-fiction book (but not always).  I like to know the pagecount or expected chapter count and then I can fill in the spaces… I know that certain chapters will follow chapter X and that other chapters must come before Chapter Y… not sure why I’ve never considered using a spreadsheet before for a fiction story, but now that I’ve got it created, it’s much easier to see the entire novel developing when it’s all on a single screen.

I woke up today with a creative-level of HIGH (maybe it was because of the low-stress weekend) so I decided to take advantage of it and push through and try to get scenes created to get me up to 20 chapters.  Even though they’re not in sequential order, I managed to get 13 new scenes created… so that leaves me with 8 more.  Just 8 more scenes to create/outline and I’ll be ready to get this book started.  I’d really like to get those 8 done this week… hopefully I’ll have one or two more days this week with a HIGH creative level… not a MED or LOW setting.

Also, the summary document I’ve been writing to consolidate the storyline has hit 15 pages.  At this point, someone reading it would know how the story starts and ends and much of the middle stuff… including the key surprises and twists.  I’ll have to remember in the future to do this again… it’s been a huge help in keeping everything straight.  No more developing a book in my head… put it on paper.


March 22, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Excellent information. I could have sworn you just mentioned being interested in writing a children’s/YA’s story a few weeks ago. Apparently, you meant it! It takes me a few years to work up to things like this. 😉 I’m intrigued with your method and the scene cards, very interesting. Hope to talk soon – getting time for another lunch! Hope Ashley is doing better. Lisa

    Comment by Lisa Wathey | March 22, 2010 | Reply

  2. Yes, we do need to meet for lunch again!

    Ashley is doing better, thanks for asking – she still has bad days, but she can eat and we haven’t had to take her back in for dehydration. Baby is due June 20.

    Comment by jamesfloydkelly | March 22, 2010 | Reply

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