When you have a large project to do, it’s a good idea to examine it first. Find out what steps you need to do to do it. This is often easier than you would think. For example, in writing a novel, I follow these steps.
- Determine the story problem – this can go second if you start with a character. the story problem is the reason for the story.
- Create characters – get to know them. Complete character sketches whaever way you do them. I use a character chart to learn their foibles and such.
- Do a plot map – this is a flow chart of the action. This happens. Your main character has these options with these results. Then you can pick one that enhances the conflict and emphasizes the story problem. This only works if you are a plotter. Pantsers do this step in their heads while writing the story.
- Do a verbal or actual sketch of the places where the action is set. This part is optional, but I find it helpful.
- Research anything you might need to. This too, is optional.
- Write the story. I know, that’s obvious.
- Revise the story. This step is also obvious, but it’s very important. You want your story to be readable and rough drafts rarely are.
- Publish your story.
My writing process has eight steps to it. I can break it down further, but you get the idea. Large projects are daunting and that is why looking at what tasks make it up is a good idea. Once you do that, the tasks are less daunting, as you can see from my breakdown above.
The trick is to figure out what tasks you need to do. Sometimes they are easy to find and other times they won’t be. Once you determine the steps you need todo. You need to figure out what you need to do first.
In my example above, I have story problem determination as step one. I put character development asstep two in priority. This may not be the case for everyone. I’ve even started with a character first, then found a story problem for them. Your steps need not be that flexible, but they don’t have to be cast in stone either.
Setting priorities is important. Each task should flow into the others. Sometimes, you will have two of the same priority, as mine above with characters and story problem. When that happens, pick one to do before the other. You will be fine. All you need to is determine the priority of each step and place them in order. You can use index cards or a spreadsheet. Whatever works for you. Then do them in that order.
Breaking a project down isn’t as hard as some people like to make it. It takes a little thought and judgement and then you have a solid plan. The hardest part is sticking to your plan. At least it is for me. So the next time you find yourself faced with a large project, look at it as a series of steps and you will find it easy to do.
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