Evaluation can take many forms and, over the course of time, as you grow your writing business, there may be benefit in considering different methods and using a variety of tools. For now, because you need to focus on using your time to produce written work, consider the following:- Have you achieved what you set out to achieve?
This is the outcome or deliverable, for example your completed your book or learnt to touch type at 30 words per minute.- Has the project provided the expected benefits? Has learning to touch type doubled your writing speed?- Are there specific areas you could improve?
Perhaps you spent longer than expected on research because you were unclear about what you needed to know.- If you were to do this again what would you do differently? After you have completed your first book you will adapt the way you work in order to maximise your productivity. Some people write detailed outlines that enable them to write a first draft that requires little editing whilst others write a brief outline and then take longer to write a first draft that needs considerable editing.
Once you have evaluated your project you can consider any areas for improvement and implement these during your future projects.
3- Plan your writing
If you want success you must plan to succeed. If you have defined your goals and turned them into projects with tasks, timescales and deadlines then you have already started the planning process. This section covers the major aspects of planning your book from first idea through to completion.
Outlining and plotting
Some fiction writers plan to the nth degree whilst others just sit down and write – often that you have carved out for yourself then planning your book and creating a detailed outline is the number one way to ensure that when you sit down to write you know exactly what you are working on and can get the words down without having to think about what happens next. When you finish a writing session you already know which scene or section you will be working on next enabling you to think it through before you next sit down to write.
Non-fiction writers nearly always plan their book although they may add or delete sections as the book progresses.
If you are already a productive and prolific pantser then carry on, if not then plan your book whether fiction or non-fiction. Plan effectively and you will save time on writing, research and editing – all of which will improve your productivity.
Fiction – planning enables you to see exactly where your novel is going (an end point or scene is always useful even if you haven’t yet decided if your main character will be successful), identify what scenes are needed (if a character is conveniently on a plane you need to establish a reason for them being there), ensure your characters develop throughout the book, check for plot holes and consistency (does the cousin in scene three become the uncle in scene ten), ensure continuity (the red scarf doesn’t become blue)
Get this right and in sufficient detail before you write the first draft and you will write faster and complete a first draft that requires less work during rewrites and edits.
If you find it difficult to plan the whole novel, or just don’t want to, or you want to get on with the writing, then write a brief outline and plan the next few scenes. When you have written them, plan a few more. The more detailed the plan the easier it is to identify any problems at an earlier stage and correct them before you need to rewrite. You can still make changes as you write however the outline makes it easier to see what else you will need to rewrite (which scenes contain the small red car which has now become a battered blue four-wheel drive).
Start with a brief narrative to describe your story. Don’t think too hard or worry about complete sentences – this is for your use. This is often better recorded and then transcribed as you will probably get a better flow. This overview will most likely raise questions that you need to answer in your book, you therefore now have a sense of some of the scenes required. This description might form the basis for a book description if you are self-publishing or for an enquiry letter if you are seeking a publisher.
An example of such a description might be:An example of such a description might be:A man boards a ferry for a coastal tour. He wanders around and sees what looks like an exchange of a package for cash. The people he is watching do not see him. Later the ferry develops a fault and is sti’anded. He sees the two people again and this time he is sure one is holding a gun and leading the other towards a car. Again they do not see him. He decides to investigate and waits until the man with the gun disappears. He goes to the car and finds a body. He tries his phone but no signal.
The man with the gun comes back and chases him. He escapes. He doesn’t want to attract attention to himself so doesn’t report what he sees. Hespends several hours playing hide and seek. During this time he tries to find out about both men. When the ferry docks he gets off intending to use a phone box to call the police. A car, the one containing the body, comes speeding towards him.There are quite a lot of questions here including:
– Why is he on the ferry?- Why is he reluctant to alert the ferry crew?- How does he find out about the two people? Perhaps he is a computer expert, he hacks the computer and obtains a passenger list with passport photos (might need to research what data is collected and where it is stored).- Who are these two people and what is being exchanged? Perhaps information about a revolutionary product which is being sold to a rival business overseas.
– At the end, and you don’t have to decide yet, does the man manage to contact the police? Does the car hit him? If yes is he killed? Is the man with the gun caught?