Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Plot Cards the Cheap Way

How to Write: Plot cards the Cheap Way

Yesterday, the post was a plot card for reference. Print one for now, or open a second window so you can look at it.

My cards read as follows on the "printed side":

Scene description: (My keywords to tell me what the scene was about, ie, "Hero returns", "Loss of Virginity", "Trip to Chicago", etc.)

Objective: (What was the point of this scene in the plot? comic relief? Using Vogler's words "Call to Adventure", whatever...would go here) Alternatively, you may mark here what is the character's objective in this scene. (Convince another character of something? Find something? Do something?)

Omen: (Is it clear to the reader that there's more coming? Make her want to turn the page? Does the scene give a logical next step?) This is a good place to note what you intend to do as a hook at the end, or simply to note a foreshadow of events to come.

Motivation: (Is the motivation of the POV character clear?) Why is the character doing this?

Senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell (I check to make sure I've used at least two, and three is better.)



POV2: (I allow myself only two POV's per scene, otherwise I get confused, and so does the reader.)

For fast reference feel free to use the blank side for notes, keywords, that snazzy bit of dialogue, or whatever notations you may need.

Pantsers: You may use the cards after the scene is written to check yourself and make sure you have achieved the maximum effectiveness and conveyed all the information you wished. Did you make sure you used at least two senses? Did you give the reader that omen (hook) that makes him/her want to turn the page?

Okay, print 15 copies, or 15 pages for each book. Keep one of the copies as a master, and mark it with yellow highlighter so it is easily noted as the master, if you need to use a copier to make more. Cut the rest up into "cards". Don't worry about pretty edges or being all the same size. These are yours, for your notes. They are supposed to be ragged, a bit, so you are guilt-free if you waste one. You now have more than enough to do a full single-title. If you need less, print less. Clip together what you don't need and save for next time or additional scenes you may insert later.

Once you have marked the scenes on them, don't forget to number them. As I stated once before, I use Chapter number, scene number. (Example: C3.1 for Chapter 3, scene 1) I don't care if you use 1, 2, 3...ad infinitum. Number them. If you drop your cards or the wind blows them, you are seriously screwed without this.

By using cheap printouts instead of index cards, you relieve yourself of several guilts. 1) Paper is cheaper than index cards. You can throw one away, knowing you've only wasted less than 1/4 a sheet of paper. 2) You can make more at home in a big hurry if you run out. 3) These can be modified to suit your style as often as necessary, and then printed. No more laboriously labeling each one with the same information is necessary.

Finally, I urge you to keep your cards. Put a binder clip on them, or wrap a rubber band around them, and store them with your hard copy of your manuscript. I have blessed my anal-retentive soul several times when my editor asked for a rewrite of a chapter and I was able to flip through the cards to find out what I needed to know: what was I trying to say, and how does what my editor wants change this?

Also, should you decide that the plot chart I talk about next is not for you, these cards become the basis for your synopsis.

No comments:

Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for popping by! Don't sit on the whipping horse unless you want to find out how it's used. I speak my mind and annoy many people, but all of it is meant in good spirit. Feel free to argue with me. I like it.

Best way to reach me is by email: voiceomt2002@yahoo.com