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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Post-Its Don't Stick to Grass Cloth (Adventures in Plotting)

So about a year ago I was excited to put up grasscloth wallpaper in our office. I love the way it looks and the office seems, well, more like an office. See? Yeah, sure, there MIGHT be duplo blocks and Lightning McQueen all over the floor, but that's immaterial, right?

But then something unexpected happened. I was working on my children's book (middle grade, that's around grades 3-5 for you non-writerly folks), and well, I couldn't remember things. Around 10,000 words I was going, wait, WHEN did that happen? Hmmm, I mention this character and then I wait four chapters to mention him again? The parental conflict is a central plot point but it doesn't really crop up until Chapter 6. Basically, I couldn't remember squat so I was constantly scrolling up and down my Word document like a crazy fool. That's when it was time to break out the post-it notes.

I decided to do individual notes for each chapter and each major plot point, and stick them up on the wall so I can see them. As I need to find something, I know where it is, and if I want to move a major point to a different chapter I can just flip things around. Except there's a problem. Yep, post-its don't stick to grasscloth. What they LIKE to do is fall off and flutter around on the floor, collecting tufts of dog hair. Luckily, with some extra tape they DO stick to the world map from IKEA. So this is now the main view in my office. The downside is that my geography-loving second grader can't see much of South America and, Africa is quickly going. One day it will all be worth it, right?

There are many different ways of plotting. Some people like a detailed outline of their books. And while I was losing track of some of my plot points, this book isn't so complicated that I need a more in-depth system. At least not right now.




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