DYED IN THE WOOL plot (Writing Tips 005)

I think I’m done with the plot in the mind map file –

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it’s been very useful.  I started with a few ideas and I’ve pulled it into a pretty good story, with at least three plots going on concurrently, and a wealth of subplots.  I know you can’t read it, but it has two days of pre-story activity at the top left, then starts filling in the investigation down the left hand side, before continuing top right.  The level two nodes are days, level three are Chapters (or off-story key activities, e.g. Post Mortems that Bain goes to that Cullen doesn’t).

Next steps are to bung it into Scrivener and flesh some of the parallel plots out.  With reference to the writing tips I published yesterday, this is the biggest selling point to me in Scrivener – you can add custom “columns” (or metadata as they’re referred to in my trade) to the file and set up the parallel bits of plot going on.  One of the biggest challenges with a police procedural, other than knowing police procedures, is tracking the multiple plot threads going on.  I’ve got something like 12 police officers to track during the investigation – Cullen is my window into the world, but I need to know what Bain, Caldwell and the other officers are doing.  I could (and have done) just make it up, but I found quite quickly that I either had too little going on with the other characters or that I lost track of it.  This way it’s pre-planned and any reference to it in the text is backed up by plan.  This might sound alarming, but it’s actually fairly easy and it helps layer up the onion of the plot.  (Note that I make up for it by having pretty sketchy character notes, so I’m not like totally OCD with this shit, though…)

Check out this discussion for some info on how JK Rowling used this concept and how it could be applied in Scrivener.  (Note that I cannot stand her books, but by Christ I would like 1% of her money…)

Feels pretty good to have pressed on with another novel – should be writing soon!

— Ed

Author: edjamesauthor

East Lothian-based writer of crime fiction novels. Published by Amazon Publishing's Thomas & Mercer imprint and self-published on Kindle.

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