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Plotting Novels With Notebooks and Sticky Notes

April 20, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 141

Novelists are Individualists

How many ways are there to plot a novel? Probably as many ways as there are novelists. We are all such individualists. However, it is fun to learn from one another.

For this article, for better or for worse, for boring you to tears or for fascinating you with my trivia, I am sharing my favorite plotting technique. It involves a three-ring, loose-leaf notebook (sometimes two) and the large 3" x 3" sticky notes.

I like the three-ring notebooks that have the transparent sleeve on the front. That way I can create my working title and slip it into the notebook. That way it's identifiable at a glance. (Just in case I'm plotting two novels at ones. Just kidding. I seldom get that aggressive.)

The next item on my list is a stack of fresh clean notebook paper. I want to have plenty at hand - it seems to stimulate me to fill the notebook!

Another needed item is dividers. With the dividers I can create the chapter numbers and keep them separated. Behind each divider are placed a few blank notebook pages - lying there eagerly waiting to be filled.

The Research Notebook

The possible need for a second notebook, as I mentioned earlier, is to serve as my research, or background, notebook. While this one is not specifically for plotting, still and yet it will contain vital information such as my character charts, researched information, names list, sketched out maps of my fictional house, or town, or neighborhood.

Working with Complete Freedom

Now back to the actual plotting notebook. The beauty of the sticky notes is that they can be so easily moved around. The beauty of the pages of the three-ring notebook is the same. Pages can be so easily moved around. Now I feel like I have complete freedom to grow my story.

If, after taking a morning walk, an idea comes to me for an incident in chapter 8, I flip to chapter 8 in my notebook and jot the idea on the sticky note and place it on that page.

If, while fixing dinner, an idea comes to me for a dialogue exchange in chapter 4, I can quickly and easily flip to chapter 4 and jot the idea on the sticky note and place it on that page.

As the story grows another interesting thing happens. At a certain point, I may notice that Chapter Three is thin and Chapter Four is way too fat. Hm. I wonder if a scene from Four can be moved to Three? Or perhaps something in Chapter Two can be moved to Three.

As the juggling, adjusting, and relocating is in process, I begin to internalize the actual feel of writing the novel. As the notebook grows, so the book inside of me grows.

The Birth of the Notebook Idea

It was during the writing of sixteen novels for the original American Adventure Series line for Barbour Publishing that my notebook plotting technique came into being. As the process evolved and matured, I was sold on it, and have used it ever since.

I like being able to hold the notebook in my hands and quite perceptibly see the story evolve and grow. I like being able to move sticky notes from here to there - or pages from here to there - in a matter of seconds to make necessary adjustments.

You may be wondering - do I have the entire novel plotted out before starting the actual writing? Sometimes yes; sometimes no. It usually depends on how sure I am of the story line.

Even if the notebook is not filled to the last chapter, as I begin the writing process the end of the story becomes clearer and clearer to me. I grab the notebook and fill the notebook pages with freshly filled-in sticky notes, and voila! there's my ending!

What Works for Me

So there it is. This is a "what works for me" article. If it helps you, I'm thrilled! If not, you probably stopped reading three paragraphs ago!

Either way, do what works for you and make it happen!

Are you an aspiring novel writer? Are you bogged down in the creation of your novel? Are you plagued with doubts and apprehension regarding your fiction and story-telling skills? Let veteran, published author, Norma Jean Lutz help you enhance your knowledge and appreciation of novel writing. Author of over 50 published books as well as hundreds of articles and short stories, Norma Jean is a popular workshop and writer conference instructor. Through her company, "Be A Novelist," she shares tips, concepts, and intricate writing techniques: Be A Novelist Information HERE. Now just launched and live! The "Be A Novelist Six-Month, Finish-My-Novel Challenge." Not your typical novel-writing course. Guaranteed to light a fire under your novel-writing attempts and to launch you into a pattern of consistent writing!

Enrollment is limited. Learn more here: Click HERE for complete details! As Norma Jean says, "I love to teach writing almost as much as I love to write!"

Source: EzineArticles
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