J.K. Rowling's Organization

With large writing projects where there’s lots of information, organizing the details and dividing the topics can be more challenging than the actual writing. Whether you are crafting a report, white paper, manual or novel, you need to map out the information that you’ll include.

If the information is difficult to juggle, how can you begin organizing? What’s the best way to start?

When faced with a project that has multiple categories, sub-categories, themes and topics, all of which need to be distilled and grouped intuitively, there are several methods to first tackle organization.

I’m impressed by J.K. Rowling’s method for organizing chapters. This simple, hand-drawn chart breaks down chapters from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The chapter’s month, title, central plot and sub-plots are all mapped out with this simple grid. This seems like a great way to organize information; it’s highly structured, easy to read and allows for layers of detail. J.K. Rowling must have used additional methods for organizing each specific chapter or plot line, but this grid is a great way to start.

For business writers, this method can be used to outline each topic of a report or letter, chapters of a manual or sections of a power point presentation or speech. This method could easily be transferred to an excel spreadsheet after being written out by hand. This way, you can collaborate with others, share your outline and make quick updates easily.

What’s your first step for organizing a large writing project? Have you ever used a method similar to J.K. Rowling’s? Do you have another method for mapping out detailed information?

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