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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Planning (or head explosions)...

   
Author Topic: Planning (or head explosions)...
skadder
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I am mid-plan for a novel and wondered how others do it. I have three intertwinned plots with relational elements that have to have occur at certain times and be foreshadowed at other, certain times.

It's doing my head in...

I like to plan, so that once done, I can write with the basic scene and premise of the scene defined.


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JamieFord
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Do you have a concrete ending? If I'm not 100% sure on the ending, the middle can look awfully grey. I use the ending as my magnetic north and go from there.
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Owasm
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I just completed my first draft for a new novel. I used a spreadsheet that Mike Munsil developed and I changed for my purposes sketching out the novel scene by scene. I have three interweaving plot elements as well. I can send it along, if you wish.

It has a lot of things on it that are useful for tracking what's going on.

Update: I went ahead and sent it anyway. The file is yours to use, abuse or refuse.

[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited July 25, 2009).]


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BenM
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Skadder - a subject near and dear to my heart. I have been dealing with basically the same problem over the last couple of months.

I found attempting to interweave multiple plot strands into my outline very difficult at first. I eventually did most of mine in freemind (having read about it here). At present I'm massaging that outline into a synopsis prior to writing so I can refine character development, pace & tension.

Jamie - I know my epilogue (result of character & plot development) but not the resolution of the plot. (Well, I have something drafted, but it'll go soon). I think that I'll probably have to start writing before I really know how it's going to end as the characters may well develop in different ways than I expect.

Owasm - I did my first (unpublished) novel outline via spreadsheet and had several plotlines as well, but didn't think it was sufficient for this job. However, that was my own homegrown system. I wouldn't mind having a look at your layout as well if you're happy to shoot it through.


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Teraen
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How can I get one of those spreadsheets? Might do me some good. I happen to be in the opposite predicament: I know exactly how all my dominos are set up, I just don't know how they will topple. Its quite frustrating, I agree.
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Owasm
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Terean,

You need to get me your email.


Owasm


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skadder
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Sorry, guy--forgot about this thread.

Thanks for the excel spreadsheet...doesn't seem to be quite what I was looking for. I have written my own spreadsheet which allows me to take sections and break into scenes and also to have notes regarding the scenes. Basically, I want a writing map.

@Jamie...I know how the story begins, middles (verb), and ends; my problem is one of ensuring the timelines intersect at correct times. There are global events and thread-specific events that need to happen in the correct order, so that when the threads intersect the correct conditions (created by other events) are there.



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Unwritten
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I can tell you what I'm doing right now--I'm not sure if it works or not, because I just started putting them together, and I don't have a finished product yet. I wrote my 2 main character's story, and then I wrote a whole other novel for my secondary character's story. Then I went through a tweeked things for timing. There is a moment about 1/3 of the way through the book where the two stories have to meet up, so I started there and made a timeline forward and backward. I had to change a couple of the character's ages and move a few of the events around. More recently, I have made a short story detailing my villain's life, and that was amazing for my story. I'm trying to weave some foreshadowing and stories of him through the story as I combine the other two. His life was immensely changed by this process. He's now a couple decades younger than he originally was, for one thing.

I'm kind of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer. As long as I know the beginning/middle/end, I like to see where the characters take me. Trying to plan out more than one storyline at a time and make it all work together BEFORE I write seems way too much like trying to stick to a budget in real life. And where's the fun in that???


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Kitti
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I've got one story I'm working on where I started putting date/times headers at the start of each scene, as a way of getting some rather tricky timing straight. It was pretty low on planning/effort, but it did force me to rearrange, retime, and rethink a few things to keep my chronology in order. Dunno if that would help at all.
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Unwritten
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I like that idea.
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mikemunsil
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Skadder, have you looked at yWriter? If you're not using Windows (ugh) then you can use version 4 and still make it work in a Mac (muted cheer) or in Linux (YEAH!), using WINE.
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mikemunsil
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Also, Skadder, there are other tools out there, but yWriter was built by a writer, for writers.
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MrsBrown
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If you are a very visual person, here is an idea I ran across once. Use 3X5 cards, one per scene/event. Jot down characters who must be present, and a quick sentence reminding you of the event. Color-code the POVs (blue highlighter for Jake, yellow for Simone, etc.) Then find a wall and tape them up left-to-right, in multiple rows if needed. You can use string to connect them. Move them around, see the relationships. I never tried it.
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