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Monday, October 26, 2009

Plotting to Take Over the World and Other Matters of Import

Are you excited for NaNo? You should be!

With just one week left for preparation it's time to pull out the big guns and plot in earnest. Let's start with breaking down the outline...

There must be hundreds of ways to break down an outline: note cards, color coded markers, pen and paper, on the computer, voice recorder, the list is seemingly endless. I usually use a computer outline or note cards.

However, in the spirit of fairness to all types of outliners I'm stealing (with permission) a page from my twin's book (or blog) about outlining with post-it notes.

Start here: with the blog post by author Lisa Shearin on her first outline for Magic Lost, Trouble Found.

And then:
Hence, I can now present for your viewing pleasure, pictures of my lovely post-it notes.

First, the BG plotting:

And photos of the TBAEO edit...

In accordance with Holly Lisle's One Pass Revision technique, green scenes need editing for flow etc only; yellow have at least one major plot point that needs to be changed/added/deleted; orange scenes need major reconstruction; and bright pink scenes are brand new scenes that need to be written.
Pale pink ones are ones that are in the first draft but that I think won't make it to the revised version.

As you can see, there is a surprisingly high proportion of green and yellow post-its, which I find extremely pleasing :) And the little tags are notes to myself - dialogue to include in scenes, thoughts about changing the order of scenes, etc.

I must say, this whole process has been an absolute blast :D Things like structure appear so much more easily when I have the frame of the first draft to work with, and drawing out and adding in subplot that relate to the themes of the novel - primarily acceptance, in the case of TBAEO - well, it's dead easy to see how they slot in when I see it all there in front of me like this :) I likes muchly.

As a final note, some observant readers may notice the gap between the rest of the TBAEO post-its and the final three green ones - that's because there's another scene before those that I wasn't sure if I wanted to change or not. I've decided now, and once I'm allowed to play again (once uni work is done) I'll dig out the post-its and fix up that final scene :)

Sounds easy enough.

The idea is to break down each scene to one small square of paper. For NaNo, post the notes on the wall be where you write (or in a notebook) and tear off the paper when you're done. It helps you visualize how much you need to do, and helps you keep track of how far you've come.

And then you can use this layout for editing later. :o) Bonus!

Q4U: How do you outline?

(No, seriously, I have permission to use Twinny Ones blog posts. Go check out Amy Laurens.)


  1. I admit, I'm not a planner, I write until I get stuck. Then I might sit down with a piece of paper and write out summaries of scenes....I don't outline. I'm horrible. Outline and me DO NOT agree. :) However-this looks a lot less outline-ish, so I will check it out!

  2. I am now a planner. I used to only plan roughly in my head. But uh thanks to the need for planning, I plan (I'm tired! Making sentences right now is challenging)).

    You've seen how I plan though for II! I plan main points. Smaller details (and other large points) appear as I write.

  3. I'm like Kristi, I don't outline. I write a chapter summaries that includes scene points and conflict that needs to be covered.

    I have written nine so far for NaNo next week, I hope to finish this week and gear forward with NaNo at rapid speed.

    Great post, I learned a lot.

  4. If I don't plan, I die. I get more excited about a project when I know that I won't have to worry as much about what scene comes next!! So basically, I write everything but the prose.