Writing can be an all-consuming activity. If you're like most writers, you find an idea or scene or character that really grips you, and you can't wait to start writing.
I started writing my first novel in this mindset. I just couldn't wait to get going. I read on the internet and decided to do an Excel worksheet that would break my story up into scenes. But when I started to actually type it out, I thought, "Oh, this is marvelous! I could go in so many directions here! Who cares about the scene-by-scene thing - I wrote it, and I can ignore it if I want! Yeah, not such a great idea.
What happened was that by the time I was done with the monster of a novel, it was a mess of characters, plots and subplots. I knew whom I wanted the heroine and the hero to be, but I got so caught up in the lives of the other characters that I wanted to give them all "full" stories, too. So everyone ended up telling their own story, my heroine was in there shouting to receive attention in the mix, and my poor hero didn't get very much attention at all.
So, you might be asking yourself, what exactly is the point here? Well, ladies (and gentlemen), here is the biggest tip I can ever give you: once you have a idea of where you want your story go, who the main characters and secondary characters are (see my previous post about character charts), PLOT OUT EVERY SCENE. I'm not shouting, I promise, but I really do want to get your attention. Put down each major scene, from the beginning to the end. When you're writing, you might decide to change minor things, or move a scene to another part of the story, but don't completely diverge from your original outline.
Currently, I have my second novel plotted out into scenes. The novel is being told by two different characters, so it can get confusing. So what I did was, I wrote down the scenes that each character would have, as the story progresses. I outlined each character with a different color, so I could see at once who was going to do what. Just a small word of caution: don't jumble your points of view because you could really, really confuse your reader. In my case, each character gets a chapter or two to tell her story, and then it switches to the other character. In other words, my readers will have a chance to really immerse themselves in each character's vastly different lives.
My second novel has been going fantastically well so far. I'm about 1/3 of the way done, and it's progressing much faster, and much less confusingly than my first novel. I can already tell this one will be a lot easier to edit.
Anyway, thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any tips on how to organize your book before you start typing it out.