I’m running a couple of days behind because of homework demands, but I’m still pushing forward on this blog series, I promise!
Today we’re taking a look at one of my notebooks, the one which most importantly is the current home of my complete outline for a section of my Harry Potter six-generation story, “Don’t Let Go of Me.”
Because this six-gen is such a massive project, it actually has a great number of notebooks associated with it, and we’ll come to those later. At the moment, I’ve been focusing my writing and planning efforts on “Don’t Let Go of Me,” so we’re starting here. A little background on that particular story, for understanding’s sake:
This portion of the story is the second part, taking place in what fans call the Riddle Era, when Tom Riddle (later Voldemort) is a student. I’m carrying this particular story from his second year through to the later months of 1962, when the Marauders (Harry’s parents and their friends) are very young children. This will total 181 chapters, making it on the longer side for one of my stories.
I actually began writing in this notebook strictly for this story, so notes on this story are the only things in it as of now. The front of the first page has a list of critical events to include and in what year, including character births and deaths.
The back side of that first page is a character list, for similar purposes as the list discussed in my last post on this topic, but more elaborate. On the left margin, I have a list of pureblood families from Pottermore, with the addition of a few OC pureblood families for the purposes of my tweaks to the universe. I use this as a reference for who is hosting the various pureblood parties in my story. In the first column, I have three lists. The first is point of view (POV) characters, starting with my primary OC, and then with her sister, Alphard Black, another major OC, Tom Riddle, and a third major OC. Several of these will be removed as OCs as the story goes forward, one for decreased relevance, the other two from deaths.
The second list is “other major characters.” These are mostly best friends and family members of the POV characters, also including Dumbledore and Grindlewald. Through the course of the story, four people are removed from this list, mostly from death, but in at least one occasion for decreased relevance. Okay, technically Grindlewald doesn’t die. But he is imprisoned, so as far as my story is concerned he might as well be dead.
The final list in this column is offpspring born over the course of the story. This includes the Black children (Bellatrix, Andromeda, Narcissa, Sirius, Regulus), Lucius Malfoy, James Potter, and three OCs. I cross off their names from this list and added them to a different list (mentioned later) as they were born.
The third and final column has two lists. The first is a short list of pureblood OCs created for two purposes. Firstly, to have people for my characters to interact with at events apart from each other, and secondly to form a charity that my main OC will work in between graduating Hogwarts and eventually marrying. I needed activity and a source of drama, so naturally she founds a charity.
The final list is a list of minor characters to sprinkle throughout. This is easily the longest list, and it consists of friends, relatives, teachers, incidental canon characters who do/are part of important things, and the children from the previous list as they are born. Professors are crossed off once all POV characters graduate. Friends and family are crossed off as they die. Incidental characters are crossed off as they die, such as Myrtle (Moaning Myrtle), and Hepzibah Smith. Characters from other lists who become less important are moved here, such as Alphard and Walburga Black.
The next 17 pages are the outline. These are one-sided, which is something I do a lot with outlines. This is so that other relevant information, like lists, charts, or excerpts, can be in the same notebook without disrupting flow of the outline, so someday the back of those outline pages might have things like Quidditch lineups or something like that. Right now they’re blank.
The outline is very similar to the outline for “Against the Odds.” Each chapter has three main points that need to be covered within that chapter, and the months and years are sprinkled throughout to keep me on track. The first three chapters on the page I’m looking at, for example, are all in December of 1939, and the next page is topped by two chapters in December of 1940. This one-year-per-page thing isn’t standard throughout. Some months get three or even four chapters, depending on what’s going on, but for example January of 1940 gets skipped over entirely, where most Januarys thereafter have at least one chapter. There are some years with only three chapters, some with as many as twenty.
In the far left column, to the left of the chapter numbers, I have the initials of the POV character. Mostly this is AR, the initials for my main OC (I stick to unmarried initials after characters marry, for clarity and coherence), but on the page I’m looking at I’ve got 5 AR chapters, 3 TR chapters, 1 ER chapter and 1 GM chapter, with no chapters from AB or PC.
Inserted loose-leaf are two standard sized pieces of printer paper, with on one side printed relevant information for the class I was subbing in that day, and the other side written out snippets and extended descriptions of events for critical events, as well as a few reminders scribbled in the margins on things I needed to do in order to move forward on the story more easily, like moving binders to a more accessible place and rereading a oneshot I’d done some time ago. I did these sheets up at work, while I had downtime (the students were in music), and I asked myself important questions, like what my character was doing in that ten year interim period between two critical plot points. In my outline, the answer was founding a charity. Many of the major points here also have subpoints, which allows me to elaborate in ways I wasn’t able to do on the outline, for reasons of space and uniformity.
And of course, for those interested, the notebook is a Top Flight single subject 70-page college rule notebook with a black cover, the ink used is almost exclusively black, with three baby blue check marks and 5.3 chapters outlined in baby blue when my black pen ran out. Also, almost all the loose-leaf is written in brown ink (two brown check marks on the outline as well), with the margins in black. Dates are highlighted in orange to set them off easily from the rest of the writing in the margin.