The last two weeks have been some of the best and the worst.
The worst because a few days after my last post ((04/06/16) June Burn Out) I had a new responsibility thrust upon me and just 12 days to complete it in (because someone didn’t check his e-mail til Wednesday).
The best, because once I got into the swing of it, I really fell in love with the process.
For an application I was having processed, I was required to write about 2,000 words of fiction. While it began as a major headache as I had almost nothing to mind, it actually gave me the opportunity to tackle a short story I’ve been wanting to write for an exceptionally long time. By the time I was finished and e-mailed it to the right people, it felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend. It’s made me want to write more short stories. The great thing about short stories is that it’s often necessary to utilize one of my favourite tools: the Unspoken Ending. Like Wittgenstein’s ‘Whereof one cannot speak’ and Jazz, rather than spell out what it obviously all means, it’s often best to lay out the events and leave the horrifying conclusion unwritten; trust in your reader, and they will connect the dots and scream for you. Unfortunately, it still ended up just shy of 2,500 words, but that’s one more lesson to eventually maybe not learn for a while.
That ended on the 20th. Since then, I have driven over the proverbial hump and finally planned the last three chapters of NoHoper. I know. Go me.
As I mentioned in my last post, one of my favourite methods for working with plot-laden projects is to make a plan of the story that exclusively tracks the plots. By taking this plot plan and turning it into a visual chart to display which chapter each plot appears in and marking where each plot ends, I can see which plots needed to be included in the remaining chapters.
Without giving away any spoilers, the chart looks something like this (as it stands now; tiny font intentional):
Now, from chapter 1 to 21, I can see which plots occur where, as well as how many plots actually occur in each chapter. Chapters 10 and 15 hold the record for 8.
I reckon this method could help someone, so here’s how I put it together:
- I went through the plan I had thus far and picked apart what plots I was continuing through the fic. These can be main plots, subplots, or simply the actions and motivations of a character who’s having a particularly heavy influence (spoiler alert: Zoey Redbird isn’t one of them).
- I arranged this list by alphabetical descending order (A-Z) rather than by ‘importance’. I then assigned each plot a number. As you can see, I wasn’t lying when I said there were 14.
- I assigned each plot a colour; this wasn’t for any particular meaning, but simply for the most visually helpful result. Rainbows are important to me as well as the most visually pleasing, so I chose colours that would produce the best rainbow.
- I put together the chart with the plotlines listed vertically and the chapters list horizontally, and gave a coloured block at the right point using the fill tool. Plotline 1 occurs in chapter 6? Put a maroon block in row 1 under column 6.
- The first plot-block is given the letter B; the last plot-block is given the letter P, E, or C.
- B – first introduction
- E – wrap up; the plot continues no further
- C – the plot evolves into a new plot (under a different name) in the sequel.
- P – the plot continues under the same name in the sequel.
- Once I knew what plots had been wrapped up or else done with by chapter 18, and already knowing where they would be in the sequel, I now know how to go about wrapping up the last of the plots. The fic should end feeling both complete and anticipatory of the sequel.
If you look at the bottom of the image, there’s the top of a table showing the plotlines for part 1 and part 2. I won’t show it now, but here’s what you ought to know: 1, two of the plots become as many as three new plots and 2, Part 2 currently has as many as 16 plotlines. It really will end up being about twice as long.
We are very close to beginning the writing of the first draft. Tantalizingly close. If I’ve bored you, I’m sorry.
–Ruin Dun Burnit