Annnnnddd we’re back with another special edition of Writerly Tools! On today’s agenda, we’ll be talking about how to organize all of those crazy thoughts and plots in your head.
Now, before you scoff and say “I’m a pantser! I write as it comes to me!”…well, for starters, don’t say that. And then take a step back and think about the complexities and intricacies of the story you are developing. For me, it is near impossible to keep it all straight in my head without some sort of reminder. I tend to pants it and then plot to make sure everything makes sense. Which is how these tools come in handy.
The first one I am going to talk about is one I, admittedly, know very little about as a non-Mac user. But I did see a friend use it and it looked awesome! I am referring to the Storyboard program for the Mac. I saw my friend use it as essentially a plot map with lines drawn to subplots and repercussions of scenes, etc. I was insanely jealous and for the first time in my life wanted to get a Mac just for the purpose of this program. So if you are a Mac user, I suggest checking it out.
If you are not a Mac user (or if you are since this program is now available for the Mac), I would suggest a program I do know a little something about called Scrivener. It is AMAZEBALLS. I have no real words as to why, so first I am going to show you as I gather my thoughts.
That’s right folks. Your very own virtual corkboard. The best part? You can layer. These pins can be folders which contain scenes. For me, my folders are always chapters and then I have individual scenes within those chapters. You can keep notes on each item, which can say as little as “Chapter Three” to as much as describing your scene briefly. This is the perfect outlining tool AND it is pretty cheap too. Right now it is $40 (US) but if you win NaNoWriMo or CampNaNo, then you can get a discount. They offer a free 30 day trial where the days are not consecutive but instead are days of usage. So if you only use it twice a week, the free trial will last you 15 weeks. Awesomesauce, right?
It gets even better. You know those character journals and story bibles people are always talking about? Well, Scrivener essentially acts as one giant notebook for you. So there are areas for characters and research.
Of course, programs aren’t for everyone, which I completely understand. Why do I understand that?
Because sometimes a good ole fashioned piece of posterboard and some sticky notes will do the trick.
Whatever your preference, I would definitely make organizing your plot elements a priority. This will help you avoid inconsistencies with characters and plot and also help you to really map your story to a timeline. What are you favorite plotting tools? Sound off in the comments below and be sure to check back next month for the Editing Edition of Writerly Tools!-Mara Valderran