Friday, August 17, 2012

Let the Plotting Complete!

Yesterday, I did an unthinkable thing – I completed the plotting of Unearthing Magic.
But this didn’t happen without hiccups along the way.

The first thing I encountered was trying to think in terms of scenes. After all Save the Cat is about screenplays, so of course it’s looking at scenes. This meant, if I used Snyder’s method, that I would include on my post-its:
  • Setting (interior, exterior, one per scene)
  • What happens (short sentence)
  • +/- (The emotional change)
  • >< (the conflict, every scene has one)

My initial introduction of the characters, Snyder's way
I got about fifteen post-its in, laboring on each one for fifteen minutes or more over the course of two or three days. It wasn’t working for me, so I took a step back because one of my life’s lessons has been; people think in different ways, even if they are good at the same things.
~You see in college, I had a friend who was a Chemist, like me. We took the same classes, studied in the same group, and got the same grades, until we hit the mandatory programming class. The language doesn’t matter (Fortran77 is you must know), what does was the fact that I breezed though (creating programs on the side), while she struggled. Turns out my brain can think like a computer, but hers couldn’t.~
So instead of continually bashing my brain against Snyder’s method until I plotted the whole thing, I looked at the result that was desired – a series of steps that could be followed to be expanded into chapters of a book that moved through a plot progression – and tried to come up with my own method for getting there. Then *BAMN!* I remembered something I did during NaNo 2011:
-  To ensure I didn’t lose the flow of the story when I had to stop, I tries to always write a sentence or two, summing up my thoughts on where things were going. For Example:
"<In which Rachael and Michael deliver Transium to Terra Firma 2 and Rachael is waylaid by a couple of UCPA authorities, who quickly realize they are in over their heads.>"
Okay so it worked as a word count booster, but more importantly it helped with the flow because I ended with 82k words (compared to my 53K of NaNo2010). It was time to see if it’d work for pre-plotting.

The character introductions, my way
Clearing my board of plot (keeping title and log line), I started fresh, using sentences beginning with “In Which”. I had to do a little rewriting at one point because I picked the wrong colors to do Point of View in, but then it started to flow. I mean really flow – suddenly in two or three sittings I’d reached the mid-point. And then in two or three more I’d cascaded to the finish line.

Now, my work isn’t done. I’ve already spotted some potential weak points and are thinking about rearranging the view point order (Blue and Green are the two foreign Princes, and Purple is the farm girl). Plus who knows what the story will do once I actually start writing it. But maybe, this time, there might be more of a plot than Rachael and company in the Nueri gave me for NaNo2011.

The next step – to do a little more characterization on my main characters. So who would you like to see answer some Beautiful People questions first:
  • Lori – the farm girl who finds out she a magi, from the country that suppresses magic use
  • Travis – heir to the throne of the neighboring kingdom and an average magi
  • Andrew – the older brother of Travis, who lives in Lori’s country and isn’t a Magi
  • A random supporting character, protagonist or antagonist.

:} Cathryn Leigh


  1. I should probably do one of these plotting exercises for one of my stories: Red King or Elsie. I have a terrible habit of doing things one chapter at a time, never really thinking ahead to what happens next. Probably why I enjoy the collaborative stuff on Ptag so much, makes the plot of the story another author's worry, hahah.

    1. Well it's my first attempt at doing any sort of full pre-planning.

      I'm known on P-tag to coordinate the happenings in collaboratives (I believe I started the very first brain storming thread that Nick then turned into it's very own group.

      But as I said, everything could change and go a completely different direction once the writing begins. :}

  2. Haha, what an awesome method! Makes me wish I could afford to plot something without it blowing up in my face every time, hehe!

    As for who to pick . . . well, Sabarial might disembowl me if I didn't put a bid for Tabby in, as he's currently eyeing my ribcage in a somewhat murderous manner, but my personal bid - threatening furballs aside - goes to Travis. Because I'd like to know some more about him *grins*

    1. Well you could still try. I sort of except it to blow up, but we won't know until I type The End at at the end of November (I hope).

      (me? - Travis looks slightly disturbed by Charley's interest - I vote for Tabby, she's the eldest, she should go first...)
      (Tabitha wails at him and then pushes him into a stream as Andrew laughs and Lori rushes to help him, trying desperately to hide a smile.)

    2. No matter how hard I plot, the story always goes in a different direction. Call it a personal curse, I do :P

      (Spook hides in a bunker, while Sabby raises an eyebrow at the ruckus with a "why do I associate with you lot?" look)

    3. (Tabitha gives Sabby a charming grin, remembering to 'show' him the emotion she's portraying at the same time, the message essentially being because we make life fun and you know you love it look.)

      *eye roll* Well I'm just hoping it might work or help so I can then apply it to rewriting my Phoenix Trilogy

  3. Looks like an interesting way of planning!

    When I plan, which is rare, I sit down with a piece of paper and I talk to myself on paper. I say, "Okay, if this happens, then this happens - but that doesn't work because this, so this." And for about half the book I follow the plot that came out of this. Then halfway through I realise the second half doesn't match up, sit down, and talk to myself on paper again.

    There's a reason I usually keep it all in my head :/

    1. Thanks. I find out if it bears me any fruit come November. though I might not really find out until I decide to edit it come a year later. (gosh that means I have to look at Rachael's story this winter... why does that thought make me shudder?) :}

      I use to keep it all in my head, but then I became a mom and something happened to my synapses, and it just works better if I write things down. Apparently this happens often enough for the term Mommy Brain to be created. :}