Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Secret of the Closet Door

Everybody's got a technique for plotting and brainstorming, or even a combination of techniques. With this upcoming third book of my trilogy, I'm going to be doing some pretty extensive outlining and prep work. Now, I know that pretty soon my writing addiction will kick in and I won't be able to keep my paws out of the work any longer, but before I jump into the first chapter, I'm going to use my Closet Door technique to figure out plot arcs for the characters in this book.

What I do is pick a different color 5 x 7 index card to represent each main character. In the case of this trilogy, Prince Xander gets the yellow cards, my heroine, Raena, is green, my seer, Dria, is purple, and my mer, Aurelia, is blue. (If you knew the plots for these books, you'd have a laugh at that last statement!) White cards represent my other minor characters except for the villain du jour, who is always the virulent pink color. On each card, I write out a brief scene blurb on the color card that represents the character whose point of view (POV) the scene will be in. Then as I plot out the story, I stick the cards up on the closet doors with poster tape. As scenes get removed or added or shuffled around, the cards get moved accordingly, and at a glance I can always tell who has which scene where in the story. That way if I haven't heard from someone in a while or I'm using one POV way too much, I'll know. I've tried other ways, and this is my favorite. It saved my bacon when I was writing Shadows of Memory. Trouble is, I can't really take this system with me on trips, and then I have to rely on a written outline in the laptop. I know there is at least one computer program out there that uses scene cards, but I feel the same way about the cards as I do about books: I don't want to read it on a computer screen. I want to hold it in my hand, write on it, crumple it up or throw it in the trash if I choose. And I don't want to have to access a computer file to get to it.

Any day now, out come the colored index cards, and the closet door will be stripped of the old cards and plastered with the new. I know I can't hold out much longer, even if my daughter's room still isn't painted.

Speaking of closet doors, the munchkins and I are very much looking forward to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, coming out later this year. It was always my favorite C.S. Lewis book, with The Horse and His Boy running a close second.

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