My blog post of February 27 was about an idea I had to start plotting my next book before I finish my WIP so that the voices from the next stop drowning out the voices in the current. My idea was to use notecards as scene holders. Before I actually started, I did more analysis so that I could space out the scenes by character POV, know where the turning points should fall, and pace the overall story to keep the action and emotion escalating to the climax. I also thought this would help in the event that the scene in my head was clearly related to a turning point or a particular act.
When I did the math (in the post from 2/27), I came up with 50 scenes. I like a 4-act story with five turning points and a resolution/denouement. I put more scenes in the earlier acts than in the later acts so that the story moves faster in acts 3 and 4. The way the scenes fell out of this analysis was as follows:
- Turning Point – Inciting incident. 1 scene.
- Act 1. 12 scenes to introduce all the characters, establish the main plot and the subplot, establish the goals of the 2 main and 2 secondary characters, and throw all the flaws and problems out there (preferably with some of these hidden in foreshadowing and other plot devices so there are some surprises later).
- Turning Point – Change of Plans. 1 scene.
- Act 2. 11 scenes of fun and games with the characters struggling in a world that has gotten worse because the change of plans didn’t work out as expected.
- Turning Point – Point of No Return. I have 2 scenes for this. One for the main plot and one for the subplot, which probably will not end up back to back as they are currently arranged in the note cards.
- Act 3. 10 scenes of the characters dealing with a world that, once again, got worse instead of better.
- Turning Point – Crisis/Dark Night of the Soul. I have 2 scenes here, as well. One for the main plot and one for the subplot.
- Act 4. 9 scenes of character actions/reactions to the dark night/all is lost turning point. I added the climax for the subplot in these scenes because I wanted it over with a couple scenes before the main plot climaxed.
- Climax. 1 scene.
- Resolution/denouement. 1 scene. Some people don’t like these. I do. I like to see the new world order with the fictional proof that the changes occurred and to know that the bad guys, if there are bad guys, have really been vanquished.
This is a very prescriptive plot outline. This is the first time I’ve plotted before starting to write so I’ve never been this precise in my plotting. I expect many changes but the little green note card box is easy to stick in my tote, and easy to grab a card from that corresponds with the scene idea. For example, Sarah, having been stymied by Finch on the permit to add on to the house she inherited, goes to the building inspector’s office to try to figure a way around the code that doesn’t allow for it. This is Sarah’s POV because the building inspector is a minor character and it should occur early as this would be an obvious “next step” after getting shot down by Finch. Therefore, I grabbed a pink card (Sarah’s POV color) from Act 1 and jotted down the characters (Sarah v Building Inspector), the conflict (Sarah wants to add on at the 3rd level, but city code does not allow new structures that high), setting (office at city hall), etc. The idea is now out of the head and on a notecard in approximately the right place. If it goes the way term papers went in high school and college, I will end up with more than 50 notecards, which I can then rearrange and toss out what doesn’t work as I write and edit.
Now, back to my WIP.