I Love My Plotting Board

Last week I shared a post about plotting boards and character charts.  I said it then and I’ll say it again -I love plotting.  I need three things to start a story.  A solid premise, a handle on the characters and to know the dark moment, or more specifically, what the entire story is building toward.  Without any of those, I’m going to be writing in circles.

I can start a story with those three things, and they always get me through about page 50-75.  By then, whatever my concept of the premise was, and whoever I thought those characters were, they usually have changed. So I have to rewrite those 50-75 pages.  And sometimes rewrite them again.  I really do spend longer on the the beginning of my story than the entire rest put together.  But once I get those first 4 or 5 chapters solid, and they feel good to me, thats when I do my plotting board!  Otherwise, it’s sort of just guessing. Which means more writing in circles.

Midnight Special Plotting Board

Midnight Special Plotting Board

My plotting boards don’t tend to be detailed.  One sticky note might say ‘love scene’, and another might say ‘party’.  Yet another might mention the heroes issues that will probably come to a head at that point in the story, but I don’t say how.  Because I don’t know how.  For me, the plotting board is a road map.  It’s a a general guide from here to there (introducing the characters and the story premise to the dark moment) .

One of the reasons I love doing plotting boards with colored sticky notes is that I can make sure that all of the story elements are being given their proper weight.  In other words, that the hero and heroine both have solidly fleshed out storylines that lets them move through situations that will make them grow toward their emotional resolution.  That there are enough love scenes and hot stuff to suit the line I write for.  The yellow notes are for plot, to ensure that whatever threads I introduce are resolved, and that it keeps the story moving toward that dark moment. And I usually have a minor subplot sticky, something that ties back to the premise.  For instance, in my SEAL books, that’ll always be a military angle.

And yes, I know my plotting boards give certain critique partners the hives, but that’s okay. I’m willing to put up with them itching if it means I have a solid handle on my story.  Which, really,makes their life easier since they have to critique them. And following me in circles in a critique is never fun.  Right Beth?  😉

So, writing aside, how about YOU?  Are you a fan of color coding?  Or does it drive you crazy?  Just so ya know, I color code my closet, too.  😀 

 

6 Comments

  • Teresa Hughes says:

    You color code your closet????? Wow, you really like color coding. I don’t color code because its time consuming. I keep a schedule and a to do list and hope I accomplish everything!

    • Tawny says:

      LOL I do. It really doesn’t take time – especially as most of my clothes seem to be black. I just hang like colors with like colors in the like sleeve length.

      Now… as to that to do list. How are you accomplishing everything? I’m either overly ambitions with my list, or a slacker when it comes to getting it all done *g* I need to find that happy balance.

      • Teresa Hughes says:

        On my to do list I set dates or time for it to be done by. Like, cleaning out a closet. On Sunday I make my list for the week and I would put it needs to be done by Saturday. If its calling in a prescription refill I put it needs to be done by Monday. If its something that needs to be done but no rush if I don’t get around to it I just move it to next week’s list.

        I also make to do lists for my kids. The list for them is more like chores or papers they need to complete for school. My husband even has one lol! And I give them timeframes to finish too. So if my 13-year-old wants to go to the movies on Friday he has to have his list he’s given on Monday done in order to go.

        For some reason it works usually. Of course I have to do daily reminders to the husband and the kids. But, that’s just a mom’s life!

  • Heidi says:

    I want this plotting board. I have one and love it, especially with colored stickies. best way to easily see the layout of the book, where the plot holes are etc. I want your plot board.

    • Tawny says:

      LOL You’re welcome to use it, Heidi! I’ve combined the basic three act structure format with bits and pieces that work for me, culled from workshops from Michael Hauge, Jennifer Crusie and others.

      Then I write it all in permanent ink on a really large white board that I can carry from room to room while I plot. Cuz, yanno, I tend to pace a lot when I’m plotting.

      • Heidi says:

        I’ll have to post my board sometime. I use a grid of 20 squares to coincide with the turning points etc. but i like the 3 act structure and michael hauge’s flow too. I will definitely keep this structure in mind as I plot my next book!