Keeping track of your Plot

For those of you that are following along – however difficult, you will know that I have finished my first draft and am starting to read through it.  Not in an official editing process, but just to check it all makes sense.  It doesn’t!

I have found  so many gaping holes in the plot, character and setting that I don’t know where to begin.  Day turns to night, boys turn into girls and summer is suddenly winter in a heart beat.  How did that house burn burn down and why is it rebuilt in the next scene?

If this is what Anne LaMott meant when she said write a really shitty first draft – then I have nailed it.  Not only is this a shitty first draft – it is actually nonsense, I seem to have composed the sequel to James Joyce’s Ulysses – the one where Buck Mulligan calls Stephen Dealus ‘Ishmael’.

How Can I Keep Track of my Plot?

Plotting and consistency seem to be a weakness of mine.

It has always been something I have struggled with.  To the point where I have not finished a few novels because I have not been able to trawl through the mess I made with their lives.

Perhaps I need to pay someone to design a plot tracking Iphone App!  I need to invent my own system to solve this little problem.  Make something I can put all my character research and plotting into – easy to read.  Portable.  On my computer – easy to change, and study.  I have tried all sorts of ways, and still don’t have a really solid solution.

Keeping it in my head – Has it worked for anyone?

I have tried to keep it all in my head – What a mess.   Just remembering does not work.

It was so difficult to hold the novel in my head that I was weighted down by the details.  This was my first method.  I just kept going forward with the writing every night with about any real regard for where I had been.  It was terrible and I was only 17/18 years old.   Rightly so I never was able to finish that book.  But there is an image of caged butterflies and a memory of a naked girl falling through a church roof that has stayed with me forever.

Writing everything in a note book – I mean five note books.

This was a better approach than the old noggin storage system, but the problem with having it all written down in a note book is that you still have to read the whole darn thing to remember it all. There was no method or order to easily retrieve the information that I needed.  A quick little note to check up with what season it was so I knew what the tides where doing.  How warm the water would be if it was say… Spring.

A Time Line Program – Ok so this one was not all bad.

I just forgot my password to log on and find all my work – Fuck!!

There is a feeling I have that it is not cool in the writing world to be organised – or to plan, of anything.

Are Chapters the key? –   Is that why chapters exist? 

I wrote a short story in a few weeks and it was such a breeze because I could hold it all in my head at once.  It was such a relief to start and finish something in the same house, with the same mindset and have it done…  I don’t know how good it is, but the feeling I have now is worth it.

Now I use Microsoft Excel – It has a promising title.  

How do you keep Track of your plot?



by Meg

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