Plot: Getting Organized

8 Sep

It was a dark and stormy night. The street lamps went dark. A vampire bit into an unsuspecting victim’s neck. He caused havoc around town until dawn broke. Somewhere in there he falls in love with his victim, but she loathes him. To this, he gets infuriated and runs away. And of course, then she realizes her tragic error – she does love him despite his appetite for humans – but he’s already gone. The end.

Ok, that’s not really awe-inspiring or long enough to be considered anything other than a rant, but it’s a start. Developing your plot and organizing your thoughts into paragraphs and chapters can become a daunting task without some sort of outline. Writing an entire story from start to finish without preparing something to help guide you on your way (my experience during NANOWRIMO 2006) may seem at first the “natural” way to let thoughts flow, or an “organic” way to build a story from off the top of your brain, but it can also be daunting. Isn’t it said that “preparedness is next to godliness”? Well, I don’t know about that whole godly aspect, but I do know that preparing – outlining, creating story boards, using note cards, having visual stimuli – can help immensely when you’re in the thick of writing.

For “Alternate Ending”, I plastered a 2’ x 1’ poster board to my wall and stuck character sketches, plot lines, chapter ideas, and pictures of locations all across it to give me a visual eye-sore of a reminder that this project had direction. Today, there are color schemes and dedicated post it notes for certain characters. Though the plot has changed several times since I made the board, it helps me visualize where I’m going with the story when I run off on tangents or avoid writing for a few weeks.

Two great examples of how to get organized with your plot are:

Storybook: a free online software for Windows & Linux users that can function in various languages. Their tagline breaks it down further: “Open Source Novel Writing Software for Novelists, Authors and Creative Writers.” There are several different views that seem very useful in the program:

1)      organize and store your plot lines, character sketches and scenes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2)      gel all these pieces together to view your final picture in chronological order

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s really amazing…and FREE!

Unfortunately, for Mac users like myself, there doesn’t seem to be a solution, but if/when I find one, I will post it.

 

Another great way to approach your novel or short story is to think of it as a movie playing out in your mind…then on paper. In the same vein as the Storybook program and my homemade story board, you can approach your plot using the story board templates used by film makers. The great templates below are from a fellow WordPress blogger, HabitualFilms, and they’ve been posted to be printed and worked on as you wish. Draw in your characters, scenes, even conversations if you wish. Or, use the boards to organize your thoughts with sticky notes and highlighters. Either way, it’s a useful tool if you want a non-computer experience to plan out your story line.

 

Overall, have fun with it. The plot of your story is a living, breathing part of your creative process and organizing those thoughts should not take away from that process. Use the tools you can find to tweak, grow and elaborate on your plot and remember that just because it’s on a story board doesn’t mean it can’t change. Keep your plot fresh and intriguing. Organizing the essential pieces of your story on a storyboard, notebook or digital space can help free your mind to explore plot lines and twists you may have otherwise not approached. Go, organize and explore…

Happy Writing!

 

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5 Responses to “Plot: Getting Organized”

  1. lsurrett2 September 8, 2011 at 2:31 PM #

    Thanks so much. I think will actually get me motivated to do some writing.

    • C* September 8, 2011 at 5:07 PM #

      That’s great to hear, I’m glad you liked it 🙂

  2. 1storyeveryday September 8, 2011 at 5:04 PM #

    I’ve always loved index cards laid out on my floor or bulletin board as a way to organize – for me, they work for everything from research papers to longer fiction!
    Also, I found a version of Storybook for Mac, I think, http://www.freemacware.com/storybook/ I have a Mac, so I’m looking forward to trying Storybook and I couldn’t accept that perhaps there wasn’t one for Mac 🙂

    • C* September 8, 2011 at 5:07 PM #

      This is fabulous, thank you!! I’m so happy there is a Mac friendly version out there haha you’re a lifesaver! 🙂

  3. M.E. Anders September 9, 2011 at 11:19 AM #

    Really enjoyed your post here. Thanks for listing my article as a “related article” from meandersfit.com. Good luck with your writing! 🙂

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