What goes into writing a book? Those who know the way I write will tell you it’s easel-sized sheets of paper covering the walls of my office, which are in turn covered with color-coded stickies and notes made with highlighters that show plot, subplots, and characters arcs. There will also be pictures of the characters and their homes and/or items that represent pieces of their lives. (I’m reposting a photo of one of my walls for those of you who haven’t seen it before. These sheets are in the beginning stages–no scene notes or plotting points yet. 🙂
This is in addition to character charts, scene sheets and folders of research notes. And I’ve also started drafting covers of each book.
Guess I don’t need to confess that I’m a detailed plotter.
Some writers “stew and brew” in their heads (to borrow a phrase from another writer). But this part of the process works better for me if I put it on paper.
For me, plotting doesn’t take the fun out of discovering a story. It simply gives me an itinerary to get from The Beginning to The End without losing my way in The Middle. I still find interesting side roads to explore along the way and the characters still surprise me with unexpected revelations.
These surprises mean that I generally replot about three-quarters of the way through a story to be sure I haven’t dropped the thread of a subplot or left a secondary character in limbo or left out any of those critical pieces of a book described by others in blog posts earlier this month.
This “second plotting” also gives me a process to be sure I’m building the tension to the black moment before the hero and heroine earn their happily-ever-after ending.
What happens to all those easel-sized plotting sheets after a story is finished? No, I don’t frame them or carefully preserve them for coming generations. Their purpose is completed and their essence now lives in the pages of the finished story. So they quietly get recycled and make way for a New Beginning: the plotting sheets of the next story.