Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wrestling a Brain Dump into Submission

Don't agonize. Organize.”— Florynce Kennedy
I felt overwhelmed as I read through thirty pages of a chapter that I wanted to cut down to 3500 words.  It was basically a brain dump of random thoughts, ideas, research, and statistics. I wasn’t sure how the flow of the chapter should go. At least the title, problem, value statement, and summary were written.
  • Title: The Age of Consent
  • Problem: Adults sexual choices unnecessarily hurt children.
  • Value Statement: Enhances ability to model sexual choices that builds trusts rather than harms others.
  • Summary: What is the “age of consent” for a child to become aware of a parent or minister’s immoral actions? Telling real stories from kids’ lives, this chapter addresses the ripple effect of adult sin upon children and teens. The reader comes to terms with the “con” of “sensual” choices.

After reading through the words and paragraphs splattered across thirty pages, I thought of an outline for the chapter flow that might work.
  • Identify the problem. Use story to show the problem.
  • State the conflict. Show the consequences of the problem. Use statistics.
  • Show the resolution: Show how to resolve the problem/conflict. Include examples of how others also resolved this problem.

As I reread, the information dump, I highlighted every paragraph in a color according to where it fit into the outline. I used a stoplight as my color code.
  • Red: Problem
  • Yellow: Conflict
  • Green: Resolution

I copied and pasted each color-coded paragraph where it fit into the chapter outline. Next, I worked on each section putting the information into an order that flowed. Now I was ready to perform surgery on the chapter and cut out any unnecessary information. Then I did a fine tune edit, and emailed it to my critique group. 

1 comment:

Roxanne Sherwood said...

I love your method of color coding and cutting apart your notes.

When I was in journalism college, I'd often cut up and reassemble my notes to write an article.

I always love to hear what methods other writers use. Thanks for posting.