Working away on the plot for the third book in the Jakirian Cycle, Sorcerer, I have been coming to grips with a familiar phenomenon. There are so many elements to the plot, and I have been having so much fun exploring them, that the number of potential characters and storylines has exploded.
Now – did I ever tell you about my shed? Thankfully, my current house does not have one. But when I had to move from my last house, I had to take an insane amount of material to the dump. Things that could variously be described as ‘junk’ but that I could not bear to throw away. You never know when that piece of wood, that metal offcut might come in handy. I’m not sure if it’s just me – or having grown up with parents who grew up in the Depression (yes that one – I’m the youngest of a big family), but I hate wasting anything. My Dad used to straighten old nails, and screws were liquid gold. Thankfully I have forced myself out of the habit.
Anyway – back to plots. Now that I have been brainstorming for a few months and getting my head back into the Yos universe, I have a whole swag of ideas. And I love them all. What to do? I could probably fill four books.
I plan to handle this two ways.
One: Be ruthless. Cut the storyline down to its essential arcs. That is going to take some work and some good old-fashioned storyboarding. I am the total reverse of Kate – the story has to be finished down to details in my mind before I start. In fact I can’t start until I reach this point.
Two: Put the scenes to work. This is good storytelling technique in any case, but for me this has become essential. To have a snowball’s chance in Hell of squeezing in the good portion of my ideas, I am going to have to design each scene to achieve two or three things at the same time – to advance at least two separate arcs and provide crucial setting ideas as well as ‘seeding’ for mystery all at once. This is one of the reasons that I have to plot – there is no way I can achieve this off the cuff (well unless I am really lucky).
How do you plot? Do you storyboard – i.e. lay out all the scenes in a physical format where you can move them around and see how they relate to each other?
How do you put your scenes to work?