Plot your way out of this one…

Well, the good news is that I am officially finished with the rough draft of Heir of Rosings Park. What leads to other good news, now I am about to start work on Netherfield: Rogue Dragon.

But what is good news without bad? Really, you knew this was coming, right? So the bad news is that it looks like Netherfield is going to get pretty complicated, enough to make my brain hurt.

Alot.

When I stared at it really hard and turned my head just so, squinting at the right angle, I realized there were like six different plotlines that needed to get tied up in this story. The main one, of course, then at least five other lines that needed to be answered.

Luckily my sons were available to restrain me from running off, screaming into the night.

What was I thinking leaving that many lose threads? (And if you think there are more, please don’t tell me, at least not right now. I’m not sure I could take it.)

Why is this such a big deal? It’s not like I haven’t written other books, right? Why does this have me worked up in knots my boy scout husband can’t unravel?

It comes down to writing style. In writing there are two primary ways to craft a story, the first is plotting. I admire these writers to no end. I want to be one of those writers! With spreadsheets and timelines and mind maps that put everything together. They know every twist and turn as they write, no stone is left unturned. They are in control, knowing everything scene they are going to write and where it fits in the story.

I want to be like those writers. 

I’m not.

The rest of us kind of fly by the seat of our pants, winging it as we go. We start with little idea of the final direction and sometimes succumb to a mutiny where the characters hijack the plot and take the book somewhere we didn’t expect to go. That’s how I write just about everything. As soon as I put together an outline, my characters go on strike and won’t get back to work until I burn the thing.

Not my spice cabinet, but a good resemblance!

It makes me crazy, truth be told because I’m totally organized in everything else I do. My spice cabinet is alphabetized. I labeled my pantry shelves when the kids were little so they could put things away right. I kid you not, my closet is arranged in color order by the light spectrum–rainbow order. I just think that way. 

But when it comes to writing, it’s got to flow organically. And that’s why I’m in trouble right now. In order to wrap up all these loose threads, I’m pretty sure I need to keep tabs on them all and make sure they tie up nice and neat, not in an ugly tangle.

So what’s a gal to do? Anything that looks too much like an outline and the poor book isn’t going to happen at all, so I’d better stay well away from that. Sounds like a job for … colorful office supplies.

That’s right, out come the post-it notes in all sorts of colors, shapes and sizes. Add to that my snazzy black science fair foam-core board and I had flashbacks to my kid’s science fair projects… no wait, that’s not what I meant … well, yes I did, but after they picked me up from huddling under the table, I was inspired.

Colors for each plot line, shapes for the important plot milestones, and I went to town.

Look Ma–a literal storyboard! 

Yep, it’s a thing of beauty for sure. With any luck here, it’s giving me a good visual of how it all comes together, without scaring off my poor characters. I’ve already got a rough dragon to deal with. I don’t need anyone else staging a coup on me, right?

So wish me luck, guys, I’m diving in! Hopefully you’ll be hearing more soon, in the form of chapters posting on the site. But you never know, for here there be dragons–right?

9 comments

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    • Carol hoyt on July 29, 2017 at 12:38 am
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    You’ve got this! So go wrangle a dragon or 2!
    Just come up now and then to check in with us!

    • tgruy on July 29, 2017 at 12:50 am
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    I can be that organized, I’m more the type “I can find anything in my mess as long as nobody messes with it!” So I will wish you good luck and I will be waiting impatiently until you wrestle all your dragons into order.

    • Glynis on July 29, 2017 at 3:51 am
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    Well I for one am rooting for you. I have book 1 but I like to have all books in a series before I read so I am waiting for this one then I can start!!!
    Same goes for Heir of Rosings Park. I have book 1 again but am waiting.
    I hope the dragons don’t succes in stressing you so much that you are unable to write further books 😞 Good luck in your endeavours.

    • Vesper Meikle on July 29, 2017 at 5:40 am
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    Well I can’t wait for the Heir of Rosings to be published, as for the dragons, I need to have all the books before I start reading so Book One is still waiting to be read

    • Natasja on July 29, 2017 at 5:41 am
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    I’m the same way. I start with a vague idea of what I’m doing, but any time I try to actually do a timeline or organised layout…

    Nope.

    • J. W. Garrett on July 29, 2017 at 8:22 am
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    The teacher in me so related to your organizational style. You can’t have a classroom without some form of organization. I loved that foam board covered in Post-it notes. It just sang to my soul. Wow! I understand completely about your character driven writing style. Hang in there. They will keep you out of trouble. Once you let go and let them drive… you will get to your destination safely. Blessings as you unravel and wind up your story threads. JWG

  1. The Blake Snyder storyboard transformed my plotting and my writing. What you’re doing looks great. I need things visual and kinesthetic–and fluid! So I can move ideas around or take them down and see how it works without them.

    Which reminds me… that is exactly what I need to do for the sequence I’m working on right now. A mini-board to track the sequence of events in this section of the book [I’m in rewrite and am jigsawing scenes in different order as I delete one subplot and write some extra stuff to smooth it over, arrrgh, a writer’s life for me!]

    Thanks for the inspiration today. It was just what I needed!

  2. I’m the same way with writing fiction. I’m an academic, and I’ve always written everything by ultra-detailed outline. But with fiction, I basically freewrite. And it’s worked for me really well until I got stuck on my latest book and just stopped dead in my tracks. I had written myself into a corner and there it sits, unfinished and “on hiatus” on Wattpad and FF.net.

    So I get it, and I looooooove your storyboard idea. That would probably work for me. 🙂

    So keep on going! I’m so excited about Netherfield as I just re-read both Pemberley and Longbourne over the past two weeks.

    Warmly,
    Susanne 🙂

    • Carole in Canada on July 30, 2017 at 5:34 pm
    • Reply

    I love an organized person…being one myself! As for your plots, you do have your work cut out for you! Mary has shown she is not a ‘settling’ kind of girl! Good luck but we have faith in you!

    As for dragons, your ‘wing it’ style should having you flying right along!

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