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My evolution in outlining…

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Because I am not the most methodical of creatures, I often struggle with organization when writing a novel. I’ve used outlines, pictographs, spreadsheets, and mind maps. None of these has been completely satisfactory to me. So, I thought I would offer up to anyone interested in writing, some of the ways I’ve combined the usage of a few of these methods.
First off, I like an outline. It helps me understand the order of things including where they are and where they should be. Here is an example of my first outline for “Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Vampire”

WV Outline Ver 5 0 (2)

Obviously this is a Word document and as such has its limitations, particularly when the structure of the story changes to any degree. When I started to write “Sherlock Holmes and the Body Snatchers” I decided I needed something a bit more dynamic, and so I attempted to use a spreadsheet form of outline

SprdshtOutline

But this two was overly cumbersome when scenes or chapters needed to be rearranged. Then I discovered an inexpensive program that helps deal with these details. Again, I have to thank Jane Friedman for introducing me to it. It’s called Scribner, and here is a screen shot of it that shows some of the features.

Scribner

What I like best about it is that I can take entire scenes or chapters and move them around at will. Also, if you are using it to actually write your work, its intended use, you can capture references, web sites, pictures, other files, etc., and have instant access to them from within the program. This is a colossal time saver, especially in the beginning when you are doing a lot of research.
So, across three novels, I’ve gone from a Word outline document, to an excel file outline to a specialized software application, all because my mind is less organized than a bowl of soup. I’m not promoting any of these methods, but each does have its advantages and disadvantages. I expect in my next novel, I will adapt the way I use these today into something different for the next book. Someday, perhaps, I’ll hit upon the perfect solution. I wonder if I’ll share it with the world, or keep it to myself. Hmmmmm…

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Ideas for the sequel…

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Although I’ve written the draft for the sequel to

Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Vampire

I thought it would be fun to solicit ideas for what the reader would like to see in it. If you should happen by this blog, do stop a moment and comment…particularly if you’ve read my first novel.

CBS Elementary mini-review…

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Elementary

While recovering from minor eye surgery (can anything involving cutting the eye really be minor?) I discovered my cable company allows me to watch network primetime television “OnDemand”. A very convenient thing for me. But I digress, the recovery as well as the convenience of modern cable viewing allowed me to view a program that I’d not yet had the chance to see, CBS’s “ELEMENTARY”.

Being more or less a Sherlock purist, I was very doubtful that I would enjoy this program, but much to my surprise I found it to be an excellent program. The fact that the lead character’s name is Sherlock Holmes is, and this is difficult to understand, not at all incident to enjoying the show.

Yes, the main characters roughly parallel the Doyle characters, it’s kind of like they are in a parallel universe where things are just a bit different. For example, Dr. Watson is a former surgeon whose ‘wound’ came in the operating room and is psychological rather than physical. She left the OR and now hires herself out as a ‘sober’ companion for recovering addicts, which the Sherlock Holmes is and becomes her client, or patient. She was hired by his father (a departure in the universe). Even Constable Gregson is present, but he’s NYPD in this series rather than Scotland Yard.

So, all that aside, you have a recovering addict with a sober ‘nanny’ doctor who, by the way, is becoming more and more interested in her patient’s ‘consulting’ activities. From the four episodes I was able to view, I found the entire premise eminently likable and found very little to complain about. Oh yes, Holmes lacks some of his unflappable confidence it seems to me, but since he’s nearly always correct or at least on the right path, it’s simply another ‘parallelism’ in this universe.

I highly recommend it and only the most staunch purist would find it unenjoyable, in my humble opinion.

I look forward to being able to view the BBC’s ‘SHERLOCK’ one day that I might make a comparison and join the fray over which is the better carrying on of the tradition.