1. Megs33

    Megs33 Active Member

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    Visual devices for plot mapping

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Megs33, Mar 8, 2017.

    As I clomp around my first exceedingly clumsy attempt at writing a book/story/series/whatever the crap it's gonna be, I've discovered that my best work is done when i have a good way to visualize my plot.

    I've heard a lot about the benefit of physical note cards. And I have Scrivener and a (free) subscription to a mind mapping service. But i'm wondering if anyone does anything else?

    I like to be able to dance around my plot and drop new ideas here and there, and then be able to back up and see a way to make it linear. I'm guessing the ideas I laid out above are probably my best bet, but I'm interested to hear if anyone else has another method that might work well. Or do you use a combo of the methods above?
     
  2. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    I bought a roll of lining paper (cheap, plain wallpaper). I tacked up a pretty big section on the wall. I wrote every location in sequence on the sheet, with plenty of room around each one for writing. Then, in pencil, whenever I think of something, I write it based around the location it pertains to. I have blank sections in each of the four corners for more general stuff that can be written down. As you refine the ideas, you can erase stuff, move it around. It's a big diagram that you can use to keep track of everything.
     
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  3. Jack Semmes

    Jack Semmes New Member

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    Megs33
    Consider a dependency chart.

    I have thrown together a quick sample. Squares in the image could be note cards on a wall. Red lines could be colored yarn.

    Key to this method is dependency shown by colored lines. For example the leading lady and leading man can't fall in love until after being introduced into your story. Also, the bad guy shouldn't be defeated until after becoming a threat.

    Should you decide to add another activity into your story, add the necessary note cards and "yarn" them into your logic path.

    chart.png
     
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  4. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    I have little post-it notes plastered at my garden door in random colours. Once upon a time I managed my timeline with that—until the door got multicoloured and the sunlight couldn't filter in anymore :D
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I pantsed my first novel, so this kind of thing didn't apply. But I'm planning my second. I kind of use this method, only instead of a wall, I keep a single page of a notebook for every chapter I envision (I think in terms of chapters) and just scribble into each page what I think the chapter will include. So far so good....
     
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  6. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

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    I mean, I tend to discovery right so I'm not a big fan of firm outlines. I am, however, a pretty big fan of known story structures and templates, which can give you a vague idea of where the plot needs to be at a certain time.

    Hence, I try to keep in mind Three-Act Structure - which is the basis of most story structure. More specifically I like to use this graph based on "The Hollywood Formula" variant (from screenwriting) as my rough guide to how things should be going. Another variant of three-act structure is Dan Well's Seven Point Structure - which doesn't list act breaks but has the same basic beats.

    A level up from that you have monomyth templates - which are a tad more detailed in terms of how to manipulate characters. They're also less universal but some people like them. The best-known (and original) one of these is "Cambellian Monomyth" or "Hero's Journey" - that one is your basic heroic template reverse engineered from myths (think Lord of the Rings). Personally I can't stand the Hero's Journey template but some people love it. My preferred template its "The Virigin's Promise" - which is an alternative monomyth reverse engineered by Kim Hudson to explain self-discovery stories which usually-but-not-always focus on female protagonist (Bend it Like Beckham, Billy Elliott, etc.). Her book on that structure is one of my big linchpins and I cannot recommend it highly enough. A third one that I find interesting Maureen Murdock's "Heroine's Journey" which takes the Hero's Journey template and re-works it to suit the needs of a female protagonist (as opposed to the Virgin's Promise template, which postulates the hero and the virgin as yin/yang monomythic characters, Murdock is taking the Hero template and gender-swapping it for a butt-kicking feminist heroine - and frankly I like her story beats if you're writing that kind of thing)
     
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  7. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    Post-it notes and a blank bit of wall work a treat.
     
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  8. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I normally just outline by bullet-pointing different levels of indents in Microsoft Word
     
  9. Bill Chester

    Bill Chester Active Member

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    I've used Gliffy Diagrams, which is a free boxes-with-links tool, for flow charting. But it would probably serve well for mind mapping and timelines.
     
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  10. RaitR_Grl

    RaitR_Grl Member

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    Gotta say this seems like an awesome idea. I also find I try to visualize everything, of course I ALSO need to plan out a decent map of my world. I'm new to these forums, so thanks for the tip!
     
  11. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    No problem. Welcome to the forum!
     

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