Sunday, November 19, 2006

Plot Board

Per a request in the comments of a recent post, I'm going to give a few details on the plot board I'm creating...have really almost finished creating. I got the idea from Diana P. (can't find her post right now) and read a really good description of how it works on Roxanne St. Claire's site.

Basically, you buy a pack of multi-colored Post-its and assign one for each of the different plotlines in your book (romance, suspense, subplot, inner conflict...whatever). Then you get yourself a posterboard or foam board or something sizable on which to tack on the Post-its, divide it into squares or blocks, one for each scene, and then write down the specifics of each plot element that is changed/adjusted/tweaked in that particular scene, and then afix the Post-it to the square. That way, you get a visual of the entire book and all its elements, complete with colorful tracking of where each plotline is developed. (If it's working right, all the colors should pretty much balance out). If scenes need to be changed, you can mix the plot points up on the board and see visually how it'll work...really get the 'big picture'.

I started mine after my first draft was already done, and I think that is probably the way I'll go on. It makes for a great review--it takes me so long to get a book written that I find I forget everything that happens in the interim. Plus, I can see which scenes need to be trimmed, beefed up, or rearranged. It's a little bit of time investment, but I think it's been worth it--it's even better helped me get a handle on my Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, which was in my mind after reading Deb Dixon's book.

So that's it, in a nutshell. Plot boards: Two thumbs up, highly recommended.

6 comments:

Trish said...

That's awesome. I wonder if you could do something like that for your own life - each character gets a different color post-it, you get to look back over who popped up in which chapters and what your motivation was.

I'll probably never do it, but it would make an interesting visual (as well as an EXCELLENT procrastination technique for someone like me who writes nonfiction and therefore does not NEED a plot board :))

Annie said...

Here's the link to Diana's post on her board with the picture of it.

Happy to hear you found it useful.

Diana's board

Sara Hantz said...

Wow!! My mind doesn't do colours and boards.... I'm extremely jealous of anyone who can...

Catherine Avril Morris said...

Yay, thank you for posting this, Alyssa! I've been wondering and wondering. I guess I've seen similar ideas detailed before. Does it ever get too confusing or overwhelming? My personal version of this is creating a database in FileMaker for each ms., in which I create one record per scene and log time, place, characters involved, basic action of the scene and what purposes its presence in the book serves. It's handy because you can do a "find" on any keyword you want and gather the relevant scenes together. But that method doesn't offer the visual benefits you outlined. Hmm... I sense a plot board in my future...

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Thanks for the link, Annie!

That would be a cool but very difficult and time-consuming endeavor, Trish.

Your FileMaker idea sounds really good, Catherine, particularly the search feature, but I like that I have this tangible summary of my book AWAY from the computer too. It does get a little overwhelming at times though...and I'm worried the Post-its could fall off.

Amanda Brice said...

Very cool!