Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Plotting Tools

One of the most exciting things about discovering the blogging community is how much good advice and tips-of-the-trade I've come across. I know I'm no Amerigo Vespucci - this terriroty has long been discovered by those way smarter than I am - but I feel like I've found a whole untapped source of information and tools to use to help me become a better writer.

Problem is, I now spend too much time learning and not nearly enough time doing.

Anyway, I found something very intriguing yesterday on Alison Kent's message boards. It's a tool to help with plotting. Not only does Alison explain how she uses the Plotting Board to manage her stories, she has posted a picture of what one actually looks like.

To sum up, this Plotting Board method involves assigning different colored post-it notes to different characters' POVs. Information is jotted on the notes as appropriate and placed on a large board that indicates chapters. The whole thing allows for a quick visual of who is seeing what when, and imbalances make themselves pretty clear. Also, this method allows a writer to check pacing and adjust/move scenes as necessary.

It looks very cool and the logic makes good sense to me. In fact, I started to do one last night and was both thrilled by how excited it got me about my current story and horrified as I realized what I had thought to be a fairly well developed plot is really not much of anything at all. As they say, back to the drawing board.

Since I have smallish children and no room in my house designated as completely off-limits, I'm going to translate the large poster-board and post-it note Plotting Board into a spreadsheet on my laptop. It'll probably be more cumbersome to create and manipulate - no easy post-its to just jot down notes and toss when not needed. But I can carry it with me along with my work to have at my fingertips whenever I need it.

If you have any problems with plotting or even just want a good way to organize your story visually so you can see the big picture, I highly recommend you check it out. And I thank Alison Kent for sharing.

Since I've mentioned plotting, another good resource for plotting tips I found on PBW's blog. Some of the methods on the list I found more helpful than others, but every person has to develop what works best for him or her.

Both sites are definitely worth checking out if plotting is in any way at all an issue for you.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Lynn!


Lynn M said...

WooHoo, Suzanne! You found your way back :)

Thanks for posting.

Lynn M

Anonymous said...

Actually, that's really helpful.

I generally start with a huge plot-knot of an idea. Then I try to figure out how to untangle it. Along the way, though, I reach these irritating dead ends and become convinced there is no way around, over, or under.

I've about given up a 93 page story for dead because I just cannot see my way to the ending. The weeks I've spent staring at it have been disheartening and just killed the muse. She yawns when she see the file now.

A chart, huh? I'm disorganized in all things, but this is worth a try.

Thanks, Lynn!

Chloe Kent