Tag Archives: plotting

Nothing like a long drive

I woke up at five o’clock on Sunday. By visiting my parents, I missed out on a visit from my daughter. Old What’s Her Face said if I got on the road by seven, our daughter would stick around Boise and cut my hair. It felt kind of abusive of her time, but I wanted to see her.

The drive started before sunrise, and I enjoyed the dawning across the high desert. This is something I used to see every day, but took for granted.

By the time I reached Lone Mountain Station, there she was. It’s still winter, so she wore a bulky sweater, tights and knee high boots. Her shock of long brown hair moved slightly in the breeze. She watched two vehicles drive by, then stuck out her thumb as I approached.

I eased into the parking lot, then rolled down the window. “What brings you all the way out here, Lorelei? Kind of lonely territory for a Muse.”

“You.”

I watched, mesmerized by her tights, as she walked around to the passenger side, then climbed inside.

“I just wanted to check in. See how your writing is going.”

“It’s been kind of slow. There were a couple of good days, but I got bogged down in the muddy middle for a while.”

“That’s familiar territory for you. Still, I know you’ve added to your storyboards. It seems like you are well primed for your next few tales.”

“Yeah, listen to this.” I turned up the music.

As she listened, I kept talking. “It’s just too obscure for Lizzie and the Pythons to play at one of their gigs.”

“Maybe when they make the movie you can include it as background music.”

“Yeah. That would be great. Since Netflix doesn’t seem to be calling, about all I can do with it is enjoy it.”

“Have you thought about making a character based around this theme?”

“That’s a great idea. He could take a supporting role for one of Lizzie’s adventures. But, I have storyboards that will take years to write out.”

“Hang onto him. He might fit on an existing board, or maybe he needs a new story.”

“Gives me something to think about.”

“That what a Muse does.”

“Of course, Good Liniment is next for that series. Then there’s The Midnight Rambler, and I have one with some gremlins, maybe one about St. Vitus’ Dance, and I’m toying with one that will take Lizzie to the Kentucky Derby.”

“How did you come up with that?”

“The hat, of course. He would hate to be one of those fancy women’s hats. I can get some comedic mileage out of that.”

“That’s a paragraph. You’re going to need a bit more.”

“Okay, Good Liniment will expand the witchcraft world. Readers asked for that, but I wanted Lizzie to evolve into her position for a few tales. There are going to be a bunch of new characters in that story. One of which is a horse lover in the form of the headless horseman. I figure he can be the herald to walk Lizzie into some problem with the horses. Weird enough for one of my tales?”

“It’s certainly weird, but so are you.”

“Thanks, I think. I don’t think I can get her there with a Barnstable Brown performance, or even Phillies and Lillies. Lizzie and the Pythons aren’t big enough for those events. I might have to invent some dive bar in the area for them to perform at.”

“Then invent one. Sounds like it’s going to take a couple of years before you write it. I’m sure something will come to you. Start a storyboard, and remember you only have about two years to complete it.”

I signaled to exit the freeway at Meridian. “What I really need is some help with Lanternfish.”

“Sorry, this is where I get out.”

“Oh, come on!”

“Anywhere near that strip mall is fine. I’ve seen your board. Lanternfish will be fine. You just need to sift through the parts until the pieces are in position for the end game. Since this is a trilogy, make sure you bring some closure to more than just James and Serang.”

“But, you could really help me.”

She leaned over and kissed my cheek. “Of course I could, but your creativity feeds me. Not the other way around. The next time you make a long drive, maybe play something other than your Lizzie and the hat playlist.”

“But, it’s such good music.”

“It really is. Sounds like that series will survive for a long time. You gained a new character out of our visit. Be happy with that.”

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It feels like progress

Today was the first decent writing day I’ve had in a while. I didn’t exactly jump on it like a leopard from the trees, but it feels pretty good.

I allowed myself to sleep in, which kind of seems like the wrong thing to do. Then I spent my first hour reading back over portions of what I already had.

This is because I have three distinct tales unfolding in this book. Since it is the third volume of a trilogy, I assume readers will already know these characters, so working it this way ought to be easier to accept.

What I have is James and Lanternfish at sea, Serang deep inland on a specific quest, then the Palumbos who are stuck somewhere in the middle pulling off their con game.

I’ve been stuck at the Palumbos for quite a while. Readers know they are being deceptive in every move they make, but they still have a couple of big deals to put in play. Today, I forced the issue.

As a story boarder, this feels like a section between the index cards that I usually free write. It’s just a bigger deal than most sections. This bit is like the summit of the whole book. From this point on the stories will start converging.

My goal is to keep readers from seeing it that way, but as the author I look at it like that.

It’s about one page less than a chapter, so it was a reasonable day word wise. I didn’t count them, but maybe 1800 or so today.

I think this chapter needs a lot of work, but in budgeting my days, I may return to it later. Both James and Serang have huge events ahead of them, but I still need to set their stages to a small degree.

Fortunately, their events don’t hinge upon each other. Meaning, I don’t have as hard a time deciding which one comes first in the story. Something tells me I need to get James in action first so we can see more of the danger and devastation everyone is facing, so I’ll probably do it that way. It will make Serang’s section that much stronger.

I’m kind of excited about today. After this, it’s going to be major action for a long time, and while that is hard to write, it tends to move pretty fast. I’ll break it up with lulls, like a section Mule has to do. There are several other things.

Bottom line, I’m happy with my output today. I might get a chance to review this section while I’m in Nevada. Tomorrow, I want to hit it hard again.

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A writer’s lament

Hi, I’m Craig, and I haven’t written a new word for two weeks. I’m unlikely to get more next week unless something changes.

Sounds like an AA meeting.

The fact is, this has been the busiest week of the year at my workplace. I was heavily involved in prep leading up to all this, too. At some point, I kind of left it all on the field, to use a sports phrase.

Old What’s Her Face and I have had the same days off, too. This isn’t particularly useful when it comes to penning new material.

I have some leave coming up, and may get to do some writing then. However, I have a stockpile of errands that will interfere to a degree if I don’t plan things well. I have to get my truck serviced, and take care of a small repair. I also have to get it sniffed for pollutants. Then there is the matter of swinging by a hardware store for some blade oil for my chainsaw. My fruit trees need some tough love and it’s best done before the sap rises.

I’ve also promised to make a quick trip to Nevada to visit my parents, so here is a rough plan. I’ll get the truck taken care of Friday morning, then go find a station that can do my sniff test. Somewhere in that vicinity, I need to find any hardware store for my oil. I will leave directly from there for Nevada. That will kill Friday, but might salvage some other days for writing purposes.

Then there is the plot problem. I’ve been dwelling on it for weeks, but have an inkling of what I want. Nothing like a long car drive to help focus some of this. It isn’t like Lanternfish needs a new character, but I’m going to introduce one. My cons can keep a secret easily enough, but adding a third party to their game could introduce some extra stress. Stress is a good thing for characters.

Normally, in times like this I would switch stories. However, I’ve finished the draft of Lunar Boogie, and want to focus on Lanternfish. It’s probably crazy, because I lost two weeks that I could have been working on something else.

I also need to keep reading what I’ve already produced. That will help me sort out what cartoons I need to order for Lunar Boogie, and I need to put some thought into Lisa Burton promotional posters.

Lisa poses a different problem. How many pirate girls can I commission here? Same thing for Lizzie and the hat. It was simple enough to do when the first book came out, and even the second volumes. This deep into both series, it gets harder to come up with things.

I’ve had Lisa pose as Serang, then in Serang’s new armor. She’s posed as Lizzie the monster hunter, Lizzie the musician, etc. I’ll figure something out, of course, but it might be a few less than I usually do.

I’m looking forward to finishing the Lanternfish trilogy. I’m down to getting the last pieces in place before things really break loose. This is the middle slog, but there are some big things planned that I expect to almost write themselves.

On the bright side, I only committed to two books this year, and one of those is drafted. I have to keep things moving, because it’s already March, but I’m not in a bad position here.

I hope all of you are doing well, and not facing your own writing problems. I’ll sort mine out, then Lanternfish will move fast.

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Some parts are more difficult

I’m still on my hiatus from drafting new material. The Muse sent me a bunch of future material and that’s been going great. I have two decent storyboards for stand alone tales. I also have three for stories about Lizzie and the hat.

The concluding story of Lanternfish still needs some work. Dealing with con men is harder that you might think. It requires a kind of mind game with the readers as well as the characters in the story.

I’m not sweating this yet and if I don’t start drafting something before December, I can live with that.

What is coming harder is any kind of comedy. I have faith in myself, but that will only get me so far. A lot of it comes to me as I write, but I usually have some antics in mind long before I start. Right now, I’ve got nothing.

This involves the relationship between Lizzie and the hat, but also the root monsters. As a buddy story, Lizzie and the hat will be easier to deal with. I have three reasonable plots and if I started writing today, they would be fine.

People love the root monsters from Lanternfish, and they need to shine as the trilogy comes to an end. I really hope I haven’t revealed all their tricks yet. I have a neat denouement in store for them, but that only helps at the end. They need purpose and humor as the tale unwinds.

One thing I’m toying with is to give them a tiny character arc. Instead of being told what to do, maybe they can start grasping what is happening and make some choices on their own. I’m not married to this idea, and as comedy relief, it kind of goes against all the rules.

What I really need are some root monster vignettes that sometimes come to me in dreams. Then I can sort through those and decide what could work in the story. I’m on the verge of reading HMS Lanternfish from start to finish as part of my editing process. That could spark some things, and you can bet I’ll have a notes app handy.

I’m 80% of the way through the book I’ve been reading, and that will signal time for editing. I might even do my traditional word searches in the evenings while Old What’s Her Face is watching television. I find that not focusing makes that go better. I miss common spelling errors when I get wrapped up in the story.

I sound like I have a plan, but I really don’t. I just know that I want Lanternfish out this summer, before it gets swallowed up with promotion for my Halloween oriented tale.

I hope everyone out there is being safe, and getting to enjoy some of the things you like.

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Shifting gears.

It wasn’t part of my long term plans, but I’m going to take a kind of break. This doesn’t mean I’m not writing, It just means I won’t be drafting new stories right now.

This morning I finished the draft for The Ballad of Mrs. Molony. I’m debating a couple more paragraphs, but don’t know if they’re necessary.

This story involves Lizzie and the hat in pursuit of a pair of rodeo cowboys. These guys are now members of the undead. This allows the band, Lizzie and the Pythons, to explore country music as part of catching the bad guys. Made for some cool outfits and hat styles, too.

Lizzie has a small melt-down over the music. At the end she returns to more familiar ground. I could add a couple of paragraphs to show how they weave in some country songs without compromising what they like. Or I could leave it out.

I’m calling it finished, regardless of what I decide. I need to work up some blog ideas for the books, work with my cover artist, decide if I’m spending any promo money, but I doubt it. Think about formatting. Oh yeah, I’m going to need some of those silly graphics to put in Mrs. Molony so as to keep with the theme.

I’m going to be storyboarding, too. The final Lanternfish is going to require a storyboard. I have two novels full of information that I have to stay faithful to. There are a bunch of loose ideas for the finale. A board helps me mold all that into a decent story.

I think next year’s Hat story could benefit from a storyboard, too. I want this one to be more grim with an undertone of sadness, while still keeping the humor going. Not an easy task. It’s my intention to break Lizzie mentally toward the end of the next one. That will lead into another one that has a lot going on including a revisit with the witching community.

Aside from that, I have some stand alone novels that are already in the early phases of storyboards. I should probably hold off on these until Lanternfish is complete.

There’s also reading. I haven’t taken a serious reading break for a long time and there is a lot I want to catch up on. I also have a bit of a blog makeover in mind.

Honestly, if I can get Lanternfish out this summer, then Mrs. Molony for the Halloween season, I will have met my yearly goals. If I don’t write another word this year, I’m in pretty good shape.

Just because I’m not working on a draft does not mean I’m not working. We’re going camping this weekend. I’ll probably do some reading while I’m up there.

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How do you like your apocalypse?

I have a question for all of you. I have a storyboard going, and it’s been growing like crazy. It’s probably going to get bumped up on my list.

Right now it’s just a loose collection of index cards with cool ideas to use in the story. There is a plot, and a smidgen of character arc. I also have a Pinterest board that I’ve been saving visuals in.

The story is going to be post-apocalyptic fiction. As I dwell on my setting, I have a lot of ways to take this, so: How do you like your apocalypse?

The question is two-fold. There is a when factor as well as a why factor. I’ll take them in that order.

When?:

• During

• Right after

• Moderately after

• Generations after

There are advantages and disadvantages here. During gives you all the madness as an obstacle to deal with. That can also be a disadvantage, because maybe your plot doesn’t involve the zombie horde. I’ve also already published something that had a “far after” vibe to it, so that isn’t likely to happen again. (Ref: The Yak Guy Project.)

I’m leaning toward moderately after. The disaster is over, looting has already happened, but some gleaning of items is still possible. Any gangs of looters have long since shot each other. Doesn’t mean criminals aren’t around, but not the mob mentality of the initial disaster.

Still, the question is for you as I talk my way through this. Consider the timeframe in your suggestions.

Why?

• Disease

• Zombies

• War

• Pollution

• Asteroid impact

• Evolution

• Climate change

• Famine

• AI takeover

• Aliens

• Who cares?

I won’t break these down individually for the sake of space. Suffice it to say, while I love zombies, I’ve kind of walked that path. I’m leaning toward the “Who Cares” option and just plunking the story down in the leftover environment. Readers would probably get pissed if I didn’t glance off the cause in some fashion.

Again, the question is for you today. Consider why in your responses.

I have the whole concept set in swamp country. (Haven’t seen anyone do that yet.) I want to have some scrounging possible, but also bartering, and shops where the better scrounged goods can be purchased. I’m looking for a return to horse power, and I mean the kind with hooves. This probably eliminates robots and aliens from the mix.

I’ve already researched the possibility of naturalized species, invasive species, native species, and more. Alligators and rattlesnakes are a cinch for this tale. Add in the python problem, a few wild hogs, and it sounds like a great place to drop a story. Then there are the crazy weather disasters along the southern coast, and I have plans for some of that, too.

Back to the question of the day: How do you like your apocalypse?

In other news, I dabbled on my task list today. Trimmed the peach tree until the battery died on the Sawsall, finish it tomorrow. Bought the book I want to read, and worked my way through the formatting of Viral Blues. Sent an email detailing issues. I never cracked HMS Lanternfish, and I regret that. I kind of got sidetracked by this post.

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It’s a goof off weekend

Old What’s Her Face is off Saturday and Sunday. While this is great, it also prevents me from doing some things.

I sent off a big portion Serang to my critique partners. One has already trickled back, and I’m sure the others will in the next few days. It’s a good time to pause this one. She and her master wandered to the high desert, far from the Emperor’s focus. There are soldiers here, but the main focus is along the Northern Coast.

There is a thieves market here, and I want Serang to change her viewpoint toward them. Right now, she thinks they should all be hanged. If she’s going to become a pirate, this is where her attitude must change.

The vendors all have something similar to a Tibetan mastiff protecting their shops. This is a bit of scene setting for something I need to explain explain from Lanternfish.

I’ve come across several places like this in the story. Because it is a prequel, I have to live with everything that’s come before. I’m really enjoying the challenge. Right now, it’s a good time to pause and think.

I made a loaf of very good sourdough, but it’s gone now. Today I started a new batch of experimental bread. This time I added sesame seeds, sesame oil, and a big scoop of chili-garlic sauce. Might be a disaster, might be pretty good. I wish I had a scoop of leftover rice, but such is life.

We watched a bunch of movies, and with the crappy weather it’s a good plan. Watched Silverado. Odd cast for a cowboy movie, but it’s a great film. I actually based a character in Panama around Linda Hunt from this film.

Several Clint Eastwood films filled out the bulk of the day, plus Deadpool 2. Right now, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is on. I know everyone is down on Nicholas Cage, but I always liked him.

While the bread is rising, we’ll probably watch movies all day. That, and I need to sew a button on a favorite shirt. The damned thing broke in half. I’ve never seen that before.

I get the holiday off tomorrow. I need to read back a couple chapters, but I do that every writing day. If my luck holds, I’ll move the team-up project ahead. They’re getting closer to the paranormal bad guy, but not just yet. They have a red herring they need to chase, and might get to chase it tomorrow.

Hope all of you are enjoying your weekend. Tell me about it in the comments.

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Time to stop researching

I looked up from my iPad and watched a pair of flamingos wing overhead. The smell of a distant brushfire faded and was replaced with a delicious smell from the cook tent. Lisa* popped outside and placed the folding table in the shade.

“Your lunch is about ready. I still can’t believe you shot that gazelle,” she said.

“I couldn’t eat another can of that Dwarven scrapple. I know you’re an animal lover, but a man has to eat. Besides, all you need is recharging.” I moved to the table, and refilled my coffee.

“What’s on the agenda today? Watch the rhinos in the mud again? Maybe watch the elephants water again?”

“Nope. I think it’s time to go home. I’ve gathered enough research, now I need to figure out what to do with it all. I’m still making everything up, but it’s nice to have some points to ground my stories. Besides, I’ll bet you miss Bunny.”

Lisa sat down my plate and turned away. “I’ll get started packing. Do we have to break down these tents?”

“The service will do everything. Load our gear, gas up, and we’re out of here.” I tucked into my lunch.

Lisa loaded her trunk, and my few meager items. She used the hand pump to fill the Landrover, then lifted the rear of the vehicle so the differential sat on a rock with the tires off the ground. “I still think we should have ordered a new starter.”

“It’s an old car, and getting one clear out here isn’t easy. We’ll order one back at the writing cabin. Besides, you’re a good starter.”

She muttered, “Yup, that’s me. Girl Friday, auto mechanic, cook, and laundry.” She placed the transmission in gear, and wrapped the right rear tire with a length of rope.

“Don’t forget spokes model, and main character too.”

“Hmph!” She grabbed the end of the rope and gave it a mighty pull. The rope spun the tire, and the Landrover engine coughed to life. Once she had the car out of gear, she lifted it off the rock, climbed behind the wheel, and backed over to where I sat.

I walked across the compound and coiled up the rope. “We’d better take this, just in case. We can pay the service for it when we get home.”

I crawled in beside Lisa and we got underway. A huge dust cloud formed behind us and I had a hard time looking back at Camp Research.

“So are you ready to choose your next novel?” She asked.

“No. I have two outlines that are into act two, a third one that’s almost there, and one that’s languishing.”

“Lorelei** is getting impatient.”

“I know, but I need to get back to the writing cabin and use the Internet.”

“Oh sure, I need the Internet and it’s no big deal. You need it, and it’s worth breaking camp over.”

“Well, I am the writer, and you’re the fictional assistant.”

She backhanded me across the chest. “Does that feel fictional?”

“No!” I nearly blacked out and spent a minute catching my breath. “For whatever reasons, I need the Internet, and I have an assignment for you.”

“I’m not leaving Bunny again so soon.”

“It’s a day job, I promise. You’re posing for Sean Harrington again. We need some new blog art to promote The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack, and The Playground.”

“I hope it isn’t for a few days. I’m going to need that long to wash Camp Research out of my hair.”

The savanna faded into higher grasslands, and eventually timber. The African animals were replaced by more ice age fauna typical of the area near the writing cabin. Lisa handed me a gazelle sandwich with horseradish as the shadows grew longer.

We slowed for a unicorn in the road, and Lisa blew right by the turn to pick up Bunny. I waived at the road in confusion.

“I’ve got a great WiFi signal here. Faith said she’ll drop him off at the cabin for me.”

Lisa drove to the lower driveway and opened the garage door. She didn’t want to stop and risk having to pull start the vehicle again. Once she parked, she turned off the engine and ran up the stairs for her beloved pet.

*Lisa Burton is the robotic main character in Wild Concept. She also has a new short story in my Experimental Notebook. You can get a free set of Lisa paper dolls here.

**Lorelei is my Muse. She didn’t appear in this story, but since we talked about her, I thought I should define who she is.

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Planning your novel, part four

I’ve given everyone a pretty good idea of how I set up my board, and how I move my cards around to get between the cornerstones of a story. I’ve also explained how you might use a different style and still benefit from a storyboard. Today is all about the bells and whistles that really help me with a story.

My app comes with a drawer that holds things in addition to index cards. Some of these are very handy, others not so much. I have no need to put a contact card in my outline. (Maybe a pizza place that delivers?)

Note: if you want to try a physical storyboard, you can do all the same things.

I want to start off with the checklist option. There are certain things that you want your character to do. Why not make a checklist and include it in your outline. This is a good way to keep from getting out of logical order. Here’s a decent example:

The stages of grieving

 

We put our characters through a lot. It’s more realistic to have them experience a loss by following the stages of grieving. In a novel you might be able to skip a step, but it details how most folks would act in the event of a loss. This is one example. You can use a checklist for all kinds of things.

My app comes with some cool little arrows. Since I can change the colors, I can coordinate what they mean with the key elements of a story.

In this example, I might add yellow arrows to take my main character from Ron Weasley all the way to Gandalf.

I’m an old guy. I don’t always remember minutia from day to day. When writing a novel it could be month to month.

If I know I’m going to use the old falling anvil trick in Act Three, I need to hoist the anvil somewhere in Act One or Two. The pink arrows can really help with that.

I don’t always follow this advice in my outline, but when I have, it makes everything much easier. There are still plenty of times I’ll have to go back and modify chapter three while I’m working on chapter 29, but it still helps.

I don’t color coordinate anything, but the potential is there. I did it for the purposes of this post. I use a lot of sticky notes. Again, my memory is still there, it just isn’t as fast as it used to be. Sometimes, at the end of a writing day, I’ll add a note about some idea I want to use in the next writing session. I call them “Hey Dummy” notes. It helps when the next writing session is fourteen days away. Here are some ideas for sticky notes:

When I finally get back to writing, I review my “Hey Dummy” notes and delete them.

I also read back and forward a bit. The story always deviates from the outline, and there is no law that says it can’t.

I’ve even been known to change the outline, because I’ve come up with some brilliant idea while writing.

Of course, I’ve also abandoned the outline completely on occasion. At least it got me started on the right foot. The cornerstones of three act structure were still useful to keep my story on track.

Its more typical for me to start writing before the outline is finished. I usually pay the price and have to go back, update the outline, and plan out the rest of the story.

One of the best things about a storyboard is pictures. Pictures really help with descriptions. I add them to my board at key places. Since this is the private part of your work, you can grab anything you like off the internet. No need to worry about copyright. Here’s an example from Arson:

Everyone’s favorite pyrophilliac has a distinct hairstyle. (Maybe she’s just my favorite.) She would never wear that horrible bow thing.

She also has some unique items she uses for work, and to decorate her office.

I find pictures to be extremely helpful. If your character has a unique style, you can pin some clothing or other bits to your board.

Maybe you want some actual crime scene photos to remind you to include specific details like pin flags or number markers.

 

True story time. When I was writing Arson, I was also outlining The Cock of the South.

Outlining is something I can do while my wife plays her music or watches American Idol. It doesn’t take quite the concentration that writing does.

I decided to completely outline the whole story. It was one of those personal challenges I talk about on occasion. I learn by trying new things, and this needed to be tested.

My app lets me seat a board within a board. I filled this storyboard with pictures and character arch reminders. I wound up with a board for each section.

The payoff was writing the whole novel in three months. Remember, I have a family and a full time job. I only get to write on Saturday mornings and one rotating day per week. Researching during the writing process was kept to a minimum. It was just writing. It was almost as if the only thing I had to concentrate on was making sure my cast of characters stayed unique and engaging. The image is how the links to the subsequent boards are displayed.

I’ve never taken it to this level since then. I should, but I always get too excited and want to start writing. My next challenge is to outline multiple projects and make them fight for my writing time. The losers will still be around, and may get a chance later. Here is a section of the board from The Playground. It shows some of the bells and whistles together on an actual storyboard.

My boards don’t start out this way. Most of them are a collection of loose notes. I won’t even fill out the premise or important act points until later.

Lorelei, my Muse, has been haunting me again blessing me with her presence. She’s been giving me ideas about all my potential stories. I decided to start a board last night so I could share one here.

This story doesn’t even have a title yet. The premise and act cards are still untouched. None of the cards are anything more than random ideas. My sticky notes are all about things I need to research. They aren’t even in columns right now.

I’ll move them into columns when the time comes. The research stickies will get discarded and replaced with data. If you want to expand the picture, there might be a spoiler or two, or everything could change. I might not let this one off the island. It’s a fair enough example for this post.

I’m a little hesitant to return to a paranormal story right away. I’ve written two, back to back. Since this one is set in history, it doesn’t lend itself easily to fantasy or science fiction. It will have to compete for its writing time.

Storyboards provide a nice visual. It’s easy to see when you don’t have enough material in one of the acts. It’s usually Act Two. The beginning and ending are easier to come up with, because they’re more exciting. One glance can show you the problem.

Read Part Three here.

Let’s call it. This was my sequence on story boarding. I’ve learned so much from other writers that I thought it was time to share. My process formed by grabbing bits and pieces from other writers. Are you going to attempt a storyboard? Did you gain a nugget to add to your own style? Is it all bullshit that stifles creativity? Is storyboarding a mental version of water boarding in your mind? Could it be useful under some circumstances, but not others? Maybe you have a tip to offer? Let me hear from you.

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Planning Act Three

My regulars know that I usually don’t post on Thursdays. I’m excited to get this post out there because the next post is where I show you how to bring a storyboard to life. I’m looking forward to that one.

Here is my reminder for act three of the story:

This is the big boss battle. Everything you’ve been building up to happens here. Love triangles are broken, ships are sunk, throats are cut, revenge is taken. Any reward you have planned gets issued, and you drop the curtain.

I don’t even use a card for the ending. I made one, but it’s not worth displaying. The story ends. Act Three is usually the shortest act, so it deserves the shortest post.

All the structure part of this series is to show you what I personally do. You can glean the interesting stuff and leave the rest, but check back tomorrow.

If you only fill out these important points in your planning, you already have a decent outline. Maybe you prefer a few lines in a notebook instead of a board. That’s cool too, just write between the important points.

I like to use movie examples, because more people are likely to have seen a film. Here are some examples of the big changes these cards represent:

  • Sheriff Brody says, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”
  • Wyatt Earp stands in a downpour and it washes his dead brother’s blood from his shirt. Part of his soul washes away too.
  • A dying cop, (played by Sean Connery) grabs Elliot Ness by the shirt and says, “What are you prepared to do?”
  • Harry Potter walks into Hogwarts for the first time.
  • Davy Jones asks, “Do you fear death?”

Maybe you prefer a different story structure. Your cards might say:

  1. Put the character up a tree.
  2. Throw rocks at him.
  3. Get the character out of the tree.
Maybe your cards follow the Pixar method:

1.) Once Upon a Time __________

2.) And every day ______________

3.) Until one day _______________

4.) And because of this __________

5.) And because of this __________

6.) Until finally _________________

7.) And ever since that day _______

I like three act structure. I make extra cards to go between the important parts. I might have seven cards in Act One, but the first one starts me off. I don’t make the cards in order either. I may have two cards for Act Three while I’m working on Act one.

I move the cards around. Sometimes they just fit the story better in another place. I don’t have to scratch out my notes and try again. I just drag the card to a new location. Sometimes I drag it back.

Early in the game, my cards are only a word or two. I go back and add info as it occurs to me.

I’m about to start outlining four potential stories. I’m going to add a card here and there until one of them demands to be written.

Tomorrow is all about the cool things you can do with a storyboard, beyond index cards.

Read Part Two here.

Read Part Four here.

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