I recently attended a great class presented by Jodi Casella at the Northern Ohio SCBWI Conference about organizing your book after you’ve written it. She shared so many amazing ways that authors use to keep their books straight so I thought I’d share mine with you.

When I started writing my first book four years ago I was a pantser. And I was so proud of it!
“Me? I don’t need no stinkin’ outline!”

That book didn’t get me far. Great concept, great hook, big hot mess. So for the next book I bent on my pantser ways just a little and was more organized when I wrote it. But still not enough. And it took me forever.

Over a year ago I mentioned an idea for a new middle-grade novel to my agent and when he emailed back to tell me he loved the idea, he mentioned that he’d love to take a look at my outline. Oh, good lord. My what? For a brief moment I thought of telling him, “I don’t do those kinds of things”. But I didn’t. Instead I sat down and actually wrote a chapter outline for the whole book.

Then I had my foot surgery and life became one big hot mess so the outline and the book idea faded into the depths of my hard drive. Until I dug it back out this March. And I followed that outline as I drafted. Not exactly, but there was enough there that it helped me draft the book in a little over a month. It was liberating! I will never write without one again.

timelineForBlogBut when the book was finished I worried that my rough outline didn’t keep the scenes, days and details straight enough. Lucky for me I happened to see a post on Twitter by the talented Kat Zhang with a link to the Timeline feature on ReadWriteThink.org and it blew. my. mind.

Seriously. You organize your points however you want and when you’re done, you save it to your computer. Then when you want to open it up again, just pull that file back up through the website and move things around. It even lets you upload photos. This –> is the first half of my book. I organized my timeline by day (so I knew if I had my MC going to school on a Sunday) and ended up doing it in two halves with two different files because the book spanned a period of three weeks.

My book was suddenly organized!
Having this tool made my revisions a breeze. When I needed to figure out where to move scenes and what couldn’t go before something else happened…
This was perfect.
And for it being free software, you really can’t beat it.