Plan Your Novel with a Plot Board: Part 2

If you haven’t read it yet, this post is a continuation from Part 1, here.

After sketching out the 3 acts (with 2 quadrants for Act 2), I added the 8 Sequences.

Here it is, as an outline:

1. Act 1
a. Sequence 1: Status Quo & Inciting Incident
b. Sequence 2: Predicament & Lock-In
2. Act 2
a. Sequence 3: First Obstacle/Raising the Stakes
b. Sequence 4: First Culmination/Midpoint
c. Sequence 5: Subplot & Rising Action
d. Sequence 6: Main Culmination
3. Act 3
a. Sequence 7: New Tension & Twist
b. Sequence 8: Resolution

Because my first novel is already a complete product, I skimmed through each chapter briefly, writing down each main point on a post-it note and putting them down in order.

So here is what the final product looked like:

image

(Luna tries to help but ultimately just gets in the way.)
This book will, like so many other YA novels today, be the first in a trilogy (that’s why I don’t have a lot of post-its in the Act 3 quadrant!). In doing this experiment I learned that many of the scenes weren’t in the right place! I started to move my post-its to where that particular story point fit best in the overall arc of the story.

Let me tell you—the book I ended with was a different book than I begin with.

I took it one step further to plot out what page each of the sequences should end. My book is 400 pages, almost exactly. Here is what I developed:

  • Inciting Incident–should happen somewhere between pages 56-61. (This marks Minute 17 in a screenplay).
  • Lock-In–approximately page 100 (the 30 minute mark of a 2 hour movie)
  • Midpoint–should happen around the precise middle, page 200. Because my book is part of a series and does not completely resolve at the end, I can probably get away the Midpoint being closer to 225 or even 250.

The Midpoint could also be the Golden Mean, or page 244. I’m a nerd, so using the Fibonacci Sequence to designate major plot points seems completely logical to me. (I’ll do a more detailed post about this at a later date, when my brain isn’t so jumbled with teenage drama. The life of a teacher!)

After aiming for particular page markers, this whole reconstruction is a massive undertaking. I’m still in the first act, cleaning everything up.

However, I am also working steadily on Book 2 of my trilogy. Since I had a blank back of the board, I decided to put it to good use. I did the same structure on the back that I had on the front.

Because I only had bits and pieces of my plot for Book 2, the board started out a lot more scarce, but it quickly filled up.

If you are like me, you are a visual person. I like to see the arc of the story, I want to see what’s coming up next. This plot board completely revolutionized my writing. After writing a few of the major points for Book 2, my brain was flooded with new ideas. I saw how to fill in the gaps and what subplots I could use to increase the tension.

The plot board combined with my writing calendar (see “Just Write!“) and my writing has gone from 0 to 100 in only a couple months. I’m on schedule to finish Book 2 over the summer and publish by September! …that is, if I ever get Book 1 cleaned up enough…

Plot Board

 

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