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The write way: getting agile with it

So... back in the day (and that day seems ages ago) I worked on the first draft of my novel using a method of my own making: scrummy writing. Since a novel is a huge pile of work, huge enough to take your breath away, I decided I needed to find a way to focus. Enter scrummy writing, which was based half-and-half on the agile scrum method used for software development. My chapters were sprints, the scenes user stories and so forth. I even wrote a couple of blogs about my scrummy writing.

Agile again

That was then. I finished the first draft, had some friends read it and submitted chapters of it to my writing critique group. I found out there was a lot of work still to do for draft 2. Then stuff got in the way. I found it was hard to get my second draft done, in part due to personal reasons but also because I had no good oversight of everything I wanted do ... and its place in the grand scheme of things. Until finally I rediscovered my own method and saw a way to make writing agile again.

Fun works better

I know I have some major issues to solve in my story and a lot of minor ones. I also know that come September I want to have a version ready for someone to read. In order to get there I need to work out most of the major issues but not necessarily the minor ones. Time to get my affairs in order and sort out the mess.

So I wrote down all the issues and grouped them together in 'features' or 'epics' - I don't care much for terminology. Then I gave these groups names just for the heck of it, because things work better you're having fun with them.

The sorting hat

The most important issue I have to solve, is bringing to main characters closer together. They need to interact more. So my first group contains all actions I have to do in that regard and is called 'The Ties That Bind' . The second group deals with all the extra scenes I need to add to fill out the story: 'Mend The Gap'. Then there's a whole bunch of little adjustments, which I grouped in 'Sweat The Small Stuff.' Finally, I need to expand on the voice of my main character. I haven't broken this down in small issues yet but when I do, they'll be sorted into 'Can You Feel Me Now.'

The good part

Now comes the good part :) I use an online tool, Trello, to list all these tasks. Each task has a label corresponding with its overarching feature. I can also order them,starting with the ones I need to do first in order to get a readable second draft. Because even within the major features are some things I don't need to do to get my second draft; they're nice to have but not absolutely necessary for September.

I can now start with the most important issue to fix and then take on the next important and so on. In short, I'm all set to get things done. I start work tomorrow, so wish me luck!

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