Plan your NaNo – Organize Your Plot

As thousands of people world wide are gearing up for the insanity that’s National Novel Writing Month (also known as AHHH!), I’m rolling out the ball with post two on the Writing Wednesdays… this time, looking at organization.

Not just how you organize the folders on your computer… though I am a bit OCD about that. Or crazy. Probably depends on how you look at this. No, I’m looking at two things here today:

1) Organizing your plot – aka plotting

2) Programs that help you do it!

Now, seeing as I’m no expert on plotting, I figured I’d refer to you all to some wonderful peeps who are. Namely, Blake Snyder over at Save the Cat and Larry Brooks over at Story Fix.

Blake Snyder’s site is particularly helpful because he takes apart movies, right there on the site so you can see how it works. And as visual as I am, that’s a life saver. Larry Brooks’ 6 Core Competencies go beyond the Beat Sheet, and I found it helpful to wrap my mind around the whole story a bit more. Though what’s really great in combination with Larry Brook’s blog and books? Susan Bischoff’s Blueprint (she also does a series of posts that walk your right through it). Let’s me work through everything in a manner I understand (very similar to the snowflake method, but makes more sense with my poor brain).Also, Larry Brooks is doing a series of posts leading up to NaNo, to help you get your story in gear before the big Nov First.

Now, that I’ve passed out all the How-To’s I enjoy, I figured I’d pass on the programs in which I actually get the plotting done. My all time favorite? Sticky Notes, which came on my PC.

BC's outline in progress

I’ve always loved the idea of plotting by sticky notes, but it never works out as well in real life. I don’t have the wall space and by the time I’m done moving around my stickies, they’ve lost their sticky-ness so many times it’s sad. Seriously, the only thing I dislike about the program that comes with my PC… is the fact that I can’t have ‘multiple desktops/files’ so I can plot out more than one book without having to transfer the outline to Word.  I love the sticky note apps you can get on the iPhone, iPad, and through the droid app-stores too. Portable plotting. -grin-

Another favorite of mine is Microsoft Office’s One Note. It’s for when I’m just starting that idea-gathering stage and just beginning to look at starting a blueprint for a story. I can keep all of my idea snippets and inspiration photos in various notebooks there.

Other Writerly Links:

Kristen Lamb just did a series on Structure – Part one

Chuck Wendig did a great post – 25 Ways to Plot, Plan and Prep Your Story

For those who really love the idea of plotting with Real Life post it’s check out Julie Cohen’s blog

Susan Bischoff’s recent review on Character Arcs will blow your mind – it did mine

And, since we are talking NaNo here, Natalie Whipple’s great tips for First-Drafting