WIP: The Go-Back List, etc.

I’m doing my ten pages a day. . . well, trying to, anyway. Even though this story has been outlined and re-outlined for months, I still find (and always do) that I need a Go-Back List. What this means is that, as I’m writing a scene or narrative, I realize I need to plant something earlier in the story. So I keep a list of those things I’ll need to go back and do later. This is why polishing as I go never works for me, although it surely works for others.
For example, yesterday I decided my teenaged character, Maggie, should visit another character, Keith, in the hospital. But for a variety of reasons, it didn’t make good sense that this would be her first visit, so on my Go-Back List, I wrote: Maggie visits Keith sometime prior to ch. 16. By the end of this draft, I’ll have several sheets of the Go-Back List, along with my ever expanding things-that-need-research list and the revelation chart I blogged about a couple of months ago.
I also keep a chart handy at all times that tells me everyone’s age, when they were born, how old they were on different significant years, when they were married, the historical events that were happening at the time (Hurrican Fran, for example), etc.
I also have a calendar that helps me keep track of when each event happens in the story. Since the story is roughly set in ’07, i use an ’07 calendar and pencil in the events. The pencil part is important as I often have to change what happened when.
I love this stuff! I love the challenge of figuring out how everything in a story fits together.
Back to work.


  1. Brenda on January 24, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Charts-great way to keep characters straight.
    Just a question for some of you. How many of you have cedar chests? I still have the one that my mother me when I was a teenager, a Lane-called Hope Chest back then…” It is at the foot of the bed. I also have one that I bought from my ex-sis-in-law’s mom recently (that was her’s (the mom’s) and no one wanted it…it is at the end of a bed in my granddaughter’s room (here at the house)…I love going through my cedar chest. The reason I thought of this-as I am writing my columns (I didn’t keep copies-just those in the paper) for my project-one of my columns “Cedar Chest Holds Years of Memories…”
    Just a thought on a cold winter day…

  2. Margo on January 25, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Wow Diane. I don’t know how you do it! Even with charts and lists it’s absolutely amazing to me how you create such a well crafted novel and keep everything straight!…so many emotions, dilemmas and resolutions and yet it is all woven together superbly!…you are a master at tangling and de-tangling! I’d love to see what your office looks like with all these charts and notes and calendars!…when you walk thru the door it must feel like walking into the story itself which is why your books are written from your heart and soul.

  3. Margo on January 25, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Brenda, I have a trunk at the foot of our bed full of blue and white quilts, sheets, pillows etc. but no cedar chest.

  4. Diane Chamberlain on January 25, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Ho ho ho, Margo! I will take a pic of my office to put on my blog and you’ll see why i’m laughing. It’s more like walking into the scene of a terrible explosion than into my story.
    Brenda, the only thing at the end of my bed are two dog crates.
    gee my house is sounding lovely, is it not?

  5. Margo on January 25, 2007 at 11:31 am

    LOL Diane! Hurry and put the pic up on the blog (-:!!

  6. Ann on January 25, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Brenda, I do have a cedar chest that belonged to my mother. It must be at least 80 years old but still has that wonderful cedar fragrance when opened. I have a piece of fabric that her wedding dress was made of in the top of the chest above all else. She made her own dress.

  7. Brenda on January 26, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Ann-how lovely…isn’t it great? A piece of the fabric…
    Margo-the trunk counts=lovely quilts-I have those too.
    Diane-you have to get a chest….
    I love your office. Mine is .
    all over the house. I have a desk and chest in a corner of family room…I have my laptop and printer at the other end where landline Internet hooks. The bedrooms are always ready for the kids and grandchildren…
    I am working diligently
    Diane-if you read the book about the reformed Nazis…the man who changed and realized how wrong he was-ignore the language. I did not finish the other book by that author-just too much for me…
    Am reading Anna Quindland and a couple of mysteries in the midst of class.
    We are doing tons and tons of short stories in my grad class…obscure ones…and a study on a classic author and her books (might choose Jane Austen)…
    As to my project-that is typing 7 years of weekly columns and choosing the ones I want to use.
    I am still reading.
    My husband and I joined the Y today to get me out of the house.

  8. Diane Chamberlain on January 26, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    brenda, you go girl! i’ve filled out the paperwork for the Y three times since i’ve been here, but haven’t yet paid the fee because i know i won’t go. yet. soon, though. honest.

  9. Krysia on January 26, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    I always reread and highlight in red things i want to fix or add into. i always had to outline in school and never followed it so i never do them. i got in trouble in college for never following them, and I just told him thast i can’t be limited. and he’d give me an A.

  10. Diane Chamberlain on January 26, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    I do think outlining has the potential to stifle creativity for some people and you might be one of them, Krysia. When writing a novel, 80 percent of my creative energy goes into the outline (which reads like a rough draft of sorts) and 20% goes into the actual writing.

  11. Brenda on January 27, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Diane-and all-did the Y today… My husband needed this and we get senior citizen discount because of him…It was l0.00 a month to add me-why not???
    Because I have arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporis, bleeding ulcer, have had 5 strokes (all of this except osteoporis and bleeding ulcer started way way long ago), I knew it would be difficult for me to do this. However…I had a good teacher-a former student of mine-and he was patient. We did an hour today, and besides some knee pain…I will go slowly. When I lived in South Carolina, and wore a size 4, I walked 5 miles a day. You can imagine how I feel at size 8-the size and weight my doctors insist I get too-inside I don’t feel that this body is mine but am adjusting…
    I plan to attempt the free Yoga and/or Steps classes l or two times a week. We will see how long it lasts. With teaching, grad school, and family and home…my time-as you know is very limited. I felt that for 36.00 a month, this is worth it-I will not use the new pools because I don’t like myself in a bathing suit. I have gotten old and am very very flabby since going off the hormone patches…We are talking old old flab.. 🙂 ) 🙂 Anyway-Diane-I am hoping this will alleviate some of the pain…
    As to the outlining-I like making grids on the computer and using those as my outlines-works like a chart and a charm….
    Diane-as to my writing-I am doing a lot in my classes but next summer-no classes…yes….
    Take care all=let’s hope this Y thing works for me-I am not one for going anywhere to exercise-never have-prefer home-and I am not one for going to groups like the YOGA…but at this time in my life, something has to give.
    Thanks for support

  12. Margo on January 29, 2007 at 9:36 am

    I workout at home with my Eliptical and love it!…but, I’m also a swimmer and am considering joining the Y since they just built a new indoor pool…dr.’s are insisting I swim more and with the Y only 5 min from home, Gary and I can join at a reasonable rate…SO happy for you Brenda that you joined and hoping it makes you feel good. Diane, I hope you join this year…

  13. Diane Chamberlain on January 29, 2007 at 10:22 am

    If Brenda can fit the Y into her wacky schedule, I’m sort of running out of excuses.
    Margo, it’s good you work out because of all that ice cream, chunky bars etc you eat at night!

  14. Margo on January 29, 2007 at 10:38 am

    LOL Diane. My chunky bars are definitely going with me to Nantucket this summer and I’ll be sure and swim alot while I’m there. (-:

  15. Brenda on January 31, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    I loved Yoga last night-low impact-and since I do Pilates-was prepared…but am out of shape for the Steps class…I took it easy…This Y is really nice and the pools are fantastic-but no bathing suit for me except at the beach.
    Off to work on our taxes…

  16. Diane Chamberlain on January 31, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    I plan to do the bathing suit bit, brenda. i’m going to sprint from the locker room to the pool as fast as i can.

  17. Margo on February 1, 2007 at 8:24 am

    I wear my ‘cover-up’ till I’m at the edge of the pool, shed it quickly and dive in!

  18. Brenda on February 2, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    Neat idea-coverups…I do that at the beach…I wear tshirts…I even did that a few years ago when I was way too skinny-looked terrible then too.

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