Saturday, September 28, 2013


So, after a few days of suffering the Between Times, I went back to working on a novel (or at least  a novella)  that I had cast aside for months when the words, scenes, characters, and enough red herrings to stock a fish market, amassed to the point that I found myself as confused as the improbable future reader would be.  The story's chronology jumped around as events unfolded, one scene followed another sequentially when it should have preceded it and flashbacks happened BEFORE the events they described. Characters mentioned events that had not occurred or were not mentioned earlier.  In other words, the manuscript structure was a terrible mess.

I've used mostly databases and spreadsheets to help me plot stories recently, but these seemed of little help to taming this particular ms.  Years ago I often used diagraming to clarify the flow of a story so I thought I'd give it a try.   Visualizing  all the scenes and/or plot points on a single white board, sheet of paper, or computer screen made it easier to discover relationships.  Initially I used PowerPoint and drawing packages until I stumbled on Inspiration,which greatly facilitated both the drawing and arranging aspects.

I took apart the messy WIP and, after I broke out the major scenes and/or plot points, I started arranging them sequentially along an arbitrary time line.  The first thing this did was to illuminate the before and after questions. The other thing was that I could see the relationships between scenes and plots.  Further examination of the diagram indicated what scenes were missing and how I should link them within the story's sequence.  In the diagram below, the color coding of the main arc is yellow, the subplots green and blue, and the material to be written is in pink.

The story is by no means finished, but for the moment I am happy that I have untangled the knot of poor plotting and can now go on to (hopefully) complete the story.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading my blog!