Posts Tagged ‘indexing’

I only learned to outline because Homer made me do it

For the next 22 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge. There’s still time to register. Join today and qualify for drawings for daily giveaways for every day that you post.


Day 7 writing prompt:

Describe your outline process for your book. What do you do to stay organized?

I’ve been writing for almost as long as I’ve been alive. In my formative years, I spit on the idea of pre-planning. This included researching or writing my papers any more than a day or two before they were due, and I certainly had no use for outlines. Then I got to advanced freshman comp at the U of A and my professor, Homer Pettey, (who’s still there!) required that we turn in our outlines for a part of our grades.

WTF?!? Outlines? I don’t write outlines. I don’t know how to write an outline. What kind of sissy writer uses an outline?

I still had to hand in my outlines.

The good news is that I learned how to write them. And now, I wouldn’t write without them. In fact, one of the primary things you learn in any screenwriting class is how essential the outline is to the success of a screenplay.

Outlines had less to do with the formation of my book than with the organization of its layout. As you may have read in my last post, I assembled 1,001 questions about every aspect of life as a 21st century American woman. I was encouraged to divide the questions by topic into chapters, of sorts – an idea I rejected. We don’t live our lives in categories, so I didn’t want to deliver the questions in such a compartmentalized fashion.

I did, however, create an extensive index, cross-referencing each question into one or more of some 80-plus categories. Eventually, I will act on the advice to segment the questions by topic, making smaller books or booklets that focus on subjects like work, family, money, health, and of course, sex. As it stands now, at the end of each question is a 3- or 4-character code that indicates which category(ies) that particular question falls under.


Question #62: To whom did you last say “I love you”? Do you? To whom do you want to say “I love you”? Why don’t you? Who do you wish would say “I love you” to you? COM/LOVE/REL

In this example, the categories are Conversation/Communication (COM), Love (LOVE), and Relationships (REL).

Each question is cross-referenced in this way. The categories are listed below.

ACC … Accidents HEA … Health
ADO … Adoption HOL … Holidays/Birthdays
ADV … Advice HOME … Home/Household
AGE … Age/Aging HOMO … Homosexuality
ALC … Alcohol/Drugs HUM … Humor/Laughter
ANC … Ancestry/Family History HYG … Hygiene
ANG … Anger HYP … Hypothetical
ANI … Animals INF … Infidelity
ART … Art/Music/Creativity LOVE … Love
BOOK … Books/Reading MAR … Marriage/Wedding
CAR … Car/Transportation MED … Media/Advertising
CHIH … Childhood/Parents MET … Metaphysical
CHIR … Children MON … Money/Finances
CIV … Civic/Community MOR … Morality
CLO … Clothing/Apparel/Accessories MOST … Most/Best/Personal Records
COM … Communication/Conversation NAME … Names
CON … Conflict NAT … Nature
COS … Cosmetics OBS … Observations
CRI … Crime/Violence/Weapons PAR … Parenting/Children
CUR … Curiosity/Privacy PART … [Your] Partner
DATE … Dating PERC … Perceptions
DEA … Death PERS … Personality Traits
DEP … Depression PHIL … Philosophies/Beliefs
DRE … Dreams/Fantasies PHYS … Physical Appearance/Traits
EDU … Education/School PLAY … Play/Leisure/Hobbies
EMB … Embarrassment PORN … Pornography
EMO … Emotions REG … Pregnancy
EMP … Employment/Career/Workplace REG … Regrets
EXP … Experiences REL … Relationships
FAM … Family ROM … Romance
FAME … Fame SCI … Science
FAV … Favorites SEX … Sex
FEAR … Fear SHOP … Shopping
FOOD … Food/Eating SIB … Siblings
FOR … Forgiveness SLE … Sleep
FRI … Friendship SPO … Sports/Exercise
GEN … Gender Issues/Women & Men TAL … Talents/Skills
GIFT … Gifts TECH … Technology/Computers
GOD … God/Religion/Spirituality TIME … Time/Duration
GOV … Government/Politics TRAV … Travel
HAB … Habits/Behaviors TV … TV/Movies
HAP … Happiness TRU … Truth/Honesty

Outlining work in almost every kind of writing. How do you employ it?



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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If bookstores were properly categorized…

Oh, how I wish I could take credit for this one! Here is a delightful excerpt from Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Book lovers near and far will be able to relate to this!

Sections in the Bookstore

  • Books You Haven’t Read
  • Books You Needn’t Read
  • Books Made for Purposes Other than Reading
  • Books Read Even Before You Open Them, Since They Belong to the Category of Books Read Before Being Written
  • Books That if You Had More than One Life, You Would Certainly Also Read, but Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered
  • Books You Mean to Read But There Are Others You Must Read First
  • Books Too Expensive Now and You’ll Wait ‘Til They’re Remaindered
  • Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback
  • Books You Can Borrow from Somebody
  • Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s as if You Had Read Them, Too
  • Books You’ve Been Planning to Read for Ages
  • Books You’ve Been Hunting for Years Without Success
  • Books Dealing with Something You’re Working on at the Moment
  • Books You Want to Own So They’ll Be Handy Just in Case
  • Books You Could Put Aside Maybe to Read This Summer
  • Books You Need to Go with Other Books on Your Shelves
  • Books That Fill You with Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified
  • Books Read Long Ago Which It’s Now Time to Re-read
  • Books You’ve Always Pretended to Have Read and Now It’s Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them
  • Books You Love but Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead Holding on the Subway**
  • Books You’ve Lent to Someone, but You Can’t Remember Who**
  • Books to Inspire Your Own Writing**

This is a pretty thorough list, but if you have any to add, please do so in the comment section. The double-asterisks (**) are my own additions.

Happy reading er browsing, and then reading!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


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