Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How I Plot a Novel

A few days pack I posted on Facebook a snapshot of my Bulletin Board of Literary Awesomeness Yet to Come, otherwise known as, Sarah is About to Start Another Book and Finally Got Everything Organized. The photo was such a success and garnered such a surprising number of comments that I've decided to do a bit of a blog post here explaining in a little more detail how my system works.

Here's the board in all its glory!! *cue dramatic fanfare*

I made this board my own self (impressed, aren't you?!) because I could not find a bulletin board that gave me the setup I needed.

The top 3/4 is cork for pinning stuff up. See, we're off to a very creative start already. Up there I tack up my 7-point plot structures for the main plot line and the most complicated/important subplots. For this book there are 3 plot lines I've plot-pointed (is that a word??)

Next to my super fancy plot structure papers are my scene cards. I use sticky notes pinned to the board. Each "card" represents a different scene and each color indicates a different point-of-view. This book is unique in that it has 3 POVs and most of my books only have 2. Intrigued yet?? The scene cards aren't overly specific, really just a basic description of the scene along with important things that need to happen or be foreshadowed in it. If, as I'm writing, I discover the scene doesn't work or needs to be moved, I either replace it or move it around.

The bottom 1/4 of the bulletin board is a little holder for the sticky notes… that I made MYSELF. Next to that is a little holder for pens & pencils… that I made MYSELF. I think I will just begin abbreviating "that I made MYSELF" as TIMM, because I'm going to get to say that again. *smiles in satisfaction*

Beside the pens & pencils is a little paper frame TIMM where I keep maps, floor plans, images of buildings/landscapes, etc. related to the story.

Beside that frame is another frame TIMM where I put pictures of "character look alikes" I found on the internet. Basically I search around until I find a picture of someone with the same coloring, basic look, etc. as my main characters & particularly important supporting characters. It helps me keep their appearance consistent. (I have a folder where I keep other information… education, childhood experiences, likes/dislikes, etc.)

The bulletin board sits right by my writing desk in my "office." And by "office" I mean the teeny, tiny corner of our living room where I have carved out some space for myself.

I could go into a lot more detail, but most of you have probably already started skimming. I guess it all comes down to… I get a little obsessive about this writing gig, but that's probably a good thing.


Kate said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'm always fascinated by how authors get a story started and keep everything organized. I love your method because it is so visual and tactile at the same time.

Brittany said...

Next blog post please: How I TIMM'd these things. Because I would like to copy your awesomeness.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I loved your picture. I have a huge white board and use 3x5 post-it notes. I wondered what your color coding meant. I need to get some more sticky post-its because I like the POV color option.

Thanks for sharing.

Julie Daines said...

I love it. It's so colorful and organized, that alone would be motivation enough to write. So I presume you're the lead homemaking craft go-to person...

Britney Gulbrandsen said...

Wow! I'm impressed! I love this! I'm the same way--lots of planning, organization, and structure.

Rachel said...

That is so cool!! I love to write but have never bother to actually sort out my thoughts, I just write. Well I've started trying to organize things and I am having trouble, this is a great inspiration!

Taffy said...

I was not skimming! I'm assuming your doing another post because this was not long enough :)

Sarah said...

I really like the "character look-alikes" and file-folder info system you've created. Brilliant way to keep organized!

Rachel said...

so when exactly does your next book come out? Like what day?

Mindy said...

I think you should do seminars. I would be your first pupil. I am currently writing my first book (arggh)! I had no idea how to start, so i just started. I think that i had a board in my brain, but nearly as cool!

Marsha Ward said...

I love it! I'm just grinning all over, comparing your Board of Awesomeness to my puny notes on the tack board like, "Robert is driving Mules." (word underlined) "George and Luke are driving Horses." (word underlined)

Why are they still on the tack board? They refer to details two books back! Alas, I'm just don't compare to your brilliance.

Weaver Reads said...

I'm a new fan, and I have to say that I absolutely have enjoyed the three books of yours I've read recently (Seeking Persephone, Courting Miss Lancaster, and [what I just finished about 5 minutes ago] The Kiss of a Stranger). I love your talent, writing style and share your passion for historical romance.

I appreciate that you've shared your bulletin board. I think it's awesome!! It gives me some food for thought and maybe a new way of planning my own writing in a more visual way than the computer provides.

Can't wait for the next book to come out. Do you talk more about your creation style? I haven't had any formal education, so any help is always awesome.

Keep up the amazing work! A favorite author, for sure!!

Ellise Weaver~ (Christian Romance with Sizzle)

Rachelle said...

Love your board! I just made my first board last month from the Save the Cat method and am loving it, but yours *** even better! I think my next board is going to have some things that inspire TIMM


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