Monday, September 28, 2009

Visualizing Your Plot

I am a very visual person and find that it's often most helpful to see the big picture of my novel so I can easily add, delete, or move elements around conceptually. I know a lot of writers use post it notes and other diagram contraptions. Some people stick notes on the wall, some use flashcards. Some use software.

I use an 11 x 17 piece of paper. I draw a box for each chapter and put them linearly, on both sides of the paper. With in each box I just put the chapter number, a simple description (four words at the most) of what happens, and a one word (if possible) description of the goal, conflict, and disaster for that chapter. It doesn't always work but I have definitely been able to see where certain scenes lack using this method. I also can see the entire book in one go. I can draw which chapters have the major plot elements (act 1, climax, midpoint, etc.). I use the tiny sized post it notes to write notes to myself about changes or move things around.

YA author Janice Hardy
, who by the way is giving a nice interview on publishing here the week of October 6 (when her new book The Shifter comes out!), has a great writing blog and had this awesome post on scene diagnostics, and I liked it so much that I visualized it. Here it is in PDF form.

(You'll need Adobe Acrobat viewer to see it.)

Finally, Plot Builder software is very interesting; I like how visual it is. It's not for me, but I LOVE this simple and effective representation of the story, which they call the "Excitement Graph":

I love the simple lines, uncluttered labels, and easy way to see the way stuff should go. Easy enough to draw on a piece of paper, really.

Anyone else use other methods for visualizing their stories, and/or keeping things straight?

More methods:


FictionGroupie said...

You have a gift over at my blog, stop by when you get a chance to pick it up. Award

FictionGroupie said...

Btw, it's hard to post comments to your page. You may want to remove the little verification word box in your settings to fix the issue. I know how to get past that glitch (tab in the box) but most people don't.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Hmm! An Award! Hard to comment! Thanks, Roni!!

As far as the comments, are you saying that I should just remove the word verification thing altogether? Is that why it's hard?

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