Purple Prose + plotting

Get Corked: The Screenwriters’ Trick for Plotting

I’d like to introduce you to my new best friend.

That’s right. My new best friend is a corkboard, and it’s become my savior when it came to restructuring my WIP. I love it so much, I’m going to use it this summer to plot out my next novel.
This is how it works:
· Each index card represents a scene.
· On one side of the card, write a sentence or two about the scene.
· On the bottom, indicate what emotional change(s) your POV character goes through during the scene.
· On the back, write the GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) for your POV character. If you want, you can write them for all the characters in the scene, too, though you might have to do this on additional index cards and pile them underneath the main one.
Now comes the fun part:
· Pin the index cards in the order you think the scenes should go.
· Play around with them, and see if there’s a better way to sequence the scenes to make your story stronger.
· Don’t be afraid to toss away scenes that aren’t working the way you first envisioned.
Obviously, this is ideally done BEFORE you write your first draft. But even if you’ve written your first draft (or your third or fifth draft), you can still use this tool. When Laura Pauling (the queen of story structure) told me I should move a few scenes around in my WIP, I thought she was insane brilliant. But after playing around with the corkboard, I not only moved those scenes around, I moved several others and tossed a few in the recycle bin (but this is only because my story problem/goal had changed).
While moving a scene might sound daunting if you’ve already written the first draft, after plotting things out on the corkboard, it’s not so scary after all. You can see how much better the story will be, and the rewrites won’t be so painful (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).
You can’t see it in this picture, but the cards are organized according to Act, and the key element of the act (e.g Catalyst, Debate, or Dark Moment*) are indicated on the appropriate card.
Have any of you used a corkboard (or the software equivalent) for plotting out your story (either before the first draft (plotters) or afterwards (pansters)? And if so, do you have any other tips to share?
(* refers to the elements in Save the Cat by Blake Synder)

Next week, I’m going to NYC for the RWA conference (and family vacation). Since I have a gazillion things to do before I leave, this will be my last post until July 11th. After that, I’ll be posting Mondays and Wednesdays until September 5th.

I miss you all already. :)


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Get Corked: The Screenwriters’ Trick for Plotting + plotting