Friday, April 6, 2012

My Plotting Conversion

If you read my last blog you know why I've decided to plot my next book. Hot, scary mess are the words that come to mind. But even scarier is the thought of doing a complete 180 to become one of those writers with wonderful notebooks filled with detailed outlines.

Not to say anything bad about those writers. Secretely I wish I could be one of them. But whenever I try to plot that way I end up about three chapters in before losing steam. So I started to wonder if there's a happy mid-point where I can live.

I need a bit more structure to my plot but without all the hoops.
So here's my plan:
First I need to make a list of all the things I want to happen. This is going to be really rough. Things like Character A meets Character B at track meet. These will be the clear action points of the story. All of these go on a sticky note in a single color.

Once that is done, I'll determine what new information will be revealed during this action. Sticking with our example, Character B is really a talking pig in disguise.* All these new pieces of information go on a new color of sticky note.

Next, I want to plot out my character's emotional states because my particular story is very driven by the extreme emotions of being a teen. So in this case I would write Character A is dissapointed and disgusted. And, you guessed it, these go on a new sticky note.

I'll have other colors to represent the goal of the scene, the tension/conflict, any foreshadowing, etc. You get the idea.

Now that I have all my pretty notes I will commandeer a blank wall somewhere in my house and get to sticking.

The nice thing about sticky notes is that you can move the order around however you want. For example, let's say I don't want the reader to know Character B is a pig until later in the story. Easy! I just move the sticky note to the new action. Plus, now I know I need to cut the track scene or I need to add something to it. 

So the real question is: will this work? Unfortunately the answer is: I don't know...maybe. I'm going to give it a try and I'll let you know. I'll try to take some pictures as I go so you can see my madness in all its glory.

If you're looking for a new plotting technique, why not give this a try and then let me know how it works for you. Do you have another technique for the outline weary? I'd love to hear about it. Now I'm off to the office supply store.

* I want to be clear that this is not my story. Although teenage boys are often confused for talking pigs, so maybe it is my story.


  1. Sounds like fun! And very colorful. It will work. If nothing else, it will make you more familiar with your material even if you end up ignoring the sticky notes in the end.

  2. I love sticky notes! This sounds like a great way to plan. Good luck with it.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement, guys. I could end up with a pretty sticky note display that is only good for covering up the dirt on my walls. But it might work.

  4. Do you know about Scrivener? It has a fake bulletin board on which you can post virtual Index cards-and then move them around. Great for plotting.

    1. Catherine,
      I've heard of it, but don't know anyone who uses it. Do you? I'd love to hear your thoughts on how well it works.

  5. Have you taken a look at by Larry Brooks? I am a reformed pantster myself, and his worksheets (as much as I despise the word!) are helpful for outlining and planning. I used them for the first time for NaNoWriMo. So helpful in keeping me on track, especially when I have to pick up the story immediately and can't re-read two or three pages to get back into it.

  6. I get so lost doing seat-of-the-pants writing; it all becomes such a sprawling, unmanageable mess. I think sticky notes could work. My next will be done using the snowflake method, I think.
    Good luck.

  7. You guys rock! The hubs who refuses to read my writing, but is intrigued by the whole 'thing' is now on a mission to find a freeware softward package to help me. I think I'm going to trial run a few and figure out what works best for me. I'll be sure to update the blog. Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions!

  8. I have been playing with the "a novel idea" app . This may work for you for organizing your ideas, characters, scenes, etc. if you have a tablet or smartphone.


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