Thursday, October 2, 2014

Plotting a Book

My fantasy story and I are in a wrestling match. I think I am finally winning.

When I was done-ish with my first (what turned into 3) books, I was looking for something else to write. Those first ones had been YA historical fiction. I wasn't too keen on contemporary (though must admit I am dying to write one of those right now!). I decided to go with fantasy, and scoured Pinterest one Saturday morning and put together a rough concept. And the phrase Elsi, wake up popped into my head.

So I pulled up a blank document, typed in that phrase and let the story fly.

And it did. To amazing places. I let my characters make decisions without an outline or end goal guiding them. It was pretty fantastic.

And oh so messy, because I did not plan it out one. single. bit. 

After struggling with an ending, I finally wrote one just to have one down. I had a phone conference with the amazing Janice Hardy and am now doing a story map, breaking down each scene into a 2 page worksheet and identifying plot points. I am very visual so my dining room right now looks like this:

Chalkboard decals and giant post it notes are great for writing down basic plot structure and keeping track of the story goals of a dozen different people/groups. The chalkboard decal is wonderful. If I ever write full time, I will repaint my dining room in chalkboard paint and people will come over and think they've stepped into a scene from "A Beautiful Mind" or something.

The chalkboard was not big enough, so I brought out butcher paper, taped it to the dining room table, and then lined up my index cards of all my scenes and shuffled them around to where I wanted them. Surprisingly, only a couple of scenes are moving.

My notebook of scene worksheets, complete with revision notes. This has taken forever, but I really think it will help. 
This book alternates between 2 POV's so there are a lot of scenes (54 to be exact). It's been time consuming to break each scene down, but helpful because there are just a lot of pieces to this. I created a reality with all these rules/laws, I have a cast of 5 main characters, there are 2 sets of bad guys, and the group hops between worlds (12 total). My scene sheets crack me up because there are notes like this on them:

-Elsi is wearing pants in this scene.
-Who attacks them here? Good guys or bad guys? (cause I wasn't sure myself when I wrote it)
-Remember they haven't kissed yet!
-Is Jep still in the tree here?

All important things to remember when I rewrite ;)

Have you ever tried to create a Rachel Ray "30 minute" meal, only to get frustrated when 45 minutes later, you are still not done? She can do it in 30 minutes because all the prep work is done. Things are chopped and measured out and ready to go. Makes the actual cooking easier.

This book will be my 30 minute meal now that things are diced and portioned out. It's taken an enormous amount of time, but man, it's helping. I've already stumbled across scenes that need to be moved (and I have a better idea of where to put them), scenes that can be cut or merged with another, etc etc.

It's funny how I am so character driven when I write, which is great, but then I do re-reads of stuff, and realize not a lot happens, Turns out plot matters. Which elicits this response:


We are getting there. I need this reorganized and then I can start rewriting, which I am dying, dying, dying to do. I threw up some chapters on my crit board where I played around with Elsi's voice/attitude, and people loved her, so she will need to be remade during this rewrite. So crazy excited about this story. Lots of people have been intrigued by the story line when I threw my query up on my crit board (there's another trick I've learned: write the query before the book, or at least before the rewrite. It narrows the book down to it's meat. I get lost in the gravy and potatoes sometimes.). The chemistry between my two leads is swoon worthy. (Admittedly, I have a major crush on my male lead in this book. He's rough and tough and so unapproachable, which makes him, oh, just delicious I tell you). 

Back to figuring this beastly mess out so I can write it! 

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