What a Tangled Web We Weave

I’m in the middle of fleshing out the synopsis for Deliverance Lost so that I can start writing soon. It is possibly the most complicated single book I’ve written, for reasons that will become clear when people read it, due to a number of sub-plots and overlapping character threads that need very particular portrayals and timings.

At first I tried my usual method of sitting down at the keyboard with the overview and simply expanding it into a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, but that hurt my head and I couldn’t keep everything straight.

I then went back to the drawing board (well, disposable flipchart in my case) and tried employing the process I use when coming up with the initial ideas – scribbling notes and drawing different coloured lines in a form of mindmap. This also failed to bring together all the elements I needed.

So I have fallen back on one of favourite methods touted by many creative writing workshops and websites: plot cards.

No, it's too small to read the details, stop hurting your eyes by even trying!

Each column is one of the various characters involved in this particular wrangle of deception and false identities, and each card represents one of the events that has to occur in order for the story to come to fruition. By putting each event on its own card, and being able to insert new cards to smooth the flow, I was able to bring together the connected but disparate storylines in a very satisfactory way.

All that remains now is to structure those cards through the relevant chapters and I should have a plan!

So today’s advice would be to try out all the different techniques available to you as a writer, even if you have an established process or method. There are many ways to order and visualise a creative process, and each has benefits and drawbacks.

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Published in: on February 4, 2011 at 11:00 am  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I did something similar for the epic fantasy I’m working on currently, but planned it in excel. Only time will tell if it’s worked or not.

  2. I’d have hoovered that carpet first if I was you.

  3. Good stuff, Mr. T. May very well try that on my next short story idea – or if I can work up to novel length that might be a great trial too. At present I’m brainstorming on A1 sheets and drawing a through line for my story. It’s working OK, but I’m willing to try anything until I find ‘my method.’

  4. I planned out an entire space battle in ‘The Gildar Rift’ with the aid of random objects from Dearly Beloved’s computer desk. It was great. ‘This rubber? Yeah, that’s this strike cruiser. And this small plastic rifle from this tie-in game figure? Yeah, that’s a battle barge… so this, does that. And that, does this…’

  5. dang, all I do is hit backspace and slam my head against the wall in frustration. Maybe I should check this out…

    Would you consider doing a future post on your method in writing a codex? Or is that strict inquisition-drags-you-away-GavT-never-existed type GW secrecy.

  6. Thanks Gav, am sitting now very happily, having planned out my entire submission for the BL submissions window, using your method as described above. I can atest, it works very well.

  7. Hopefully you don’t need to resort to this much work for the sequel, Deliverance Regained
    :P

    • I was thinking more along the lines of Deliverance Revisited


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