Thursday, August 9, 2007

A New Method for Plotting

I wanted to share something new I tried recently. It was rather by accident. But I'm sure it's not something new. It's new to me, though, and I liked the process.

I was at a point in my plot where I didn't have any idea what was going to happen next. I knew the turning point I was heading toward, but didn't know how to get there. As I was thinking of my options, I narrowed it down to two. But which would work best?

So I started thinking through each scenario, but ended up confused. So (and FINALLY, I get to my new plotting method), I took out a stack of note cards.

Side note: I found this really cute plastic note card holder at the grocery store! It holds a package of note cards and has little dividers inside with a place to put labels. It snaps closed, and keeps everything nice and safe. :)

Okay. Back to plotting. I took each of the scene ideas and wrote it on a card. Then on subsequent cards, I wrote what would happen next ... and next. If I got to a point where there were two choices of probable outcomes, I did a card for each. Then I continued the scene possibilities from both options. I ended up with branching rows of cards that looked kind of like a family tree. :)

Once I finished, I chose the route I liked best for the most emotional impact. Ta-da! A new method for me when I get stuck and can't keep all the ideas straight in my head.

Have any of you ever done something similar? Would you share what methods you use when you get stuck?



  1. Missy,
    Great idea. It must spark creativity, also. You get all kinds of ideas.
    Thanks for sharing. I'm sure I'll be getting stuck soon and will try your method.

  2. I usually use FreeMind. My approach in using it is probably not that much different from your notecards, but it lets me see everything at once.

  3. Kimberly, so glad to see you here. Thanks for stopping by.
    I like your idea, Missy. I'll have to keep it in mind.

  4. I'll have to check out FreeMind. I assume that's software.

    Thanks for the suggestion!


  5. I have heard of doing this, but never tried it. I used to think it wasn't for me, but when you get blocked, you want to have as many options to get out of being blocked as possible! Thanks for the suggestion, Missy!

  6. I used sticky notes on a poster board. I learned it from taking the "W" Plot class. It's very much like your idea. Each character gets their own color of sticky notes. It's how I visualize. Then I can move them all around.