poetry and prose about place

writing a novel – writing and plotting

with 4 comments

I often see questions from writers about plotting the story in a novel.  Some advocate just writing, letting the plot write itself.  Others say the best approach is to carefully plot the action beginning with an outline.


My approach is a mix of these two.  I began to write some of my novel early last year – just jotting down ideas and doing sections of writing.  Now, I have reached about 32,000 words, and I have a very good idea about my plot and where the action takes the reader.  It is time to make sure I am going in a particular direction.


I have always wanted to use a plot board in the writing of my book, but I don’t have the wall space to use a proper ‘story board’ or one of those ‘white boards’ you see in detective shows on TV.  I do have an empty canvas or two, so I am using one (20 X 24) as a story board to arrange the elements of my book.  The canvas is a good size to store easily, or work with on my knee!


First I used a block of post-it notes (mine look like evergreen trees) to jot down the various scenes I have written to date (looks like a forest).

Scene – a sequence of related actions and conversation occurring in a particular place.  For example: Sadie and Tom sit at their kitchen table and discuss where to take the writers for a tour of the community.


I put these scenes in order and posted them on the canvas in vertical lines, each line representing roughly a day (or a group of related days) in the action.  Below is my canvas story board with scenes arranged in eight ‘days’ worth of action.




To show a little more of the arrangement, I have drawn some circles to show you where I put different scenes.  Some (lower left) don’t seem to fit anywhere – perhaps they will just become bits of orphan writing.  The ‘aftermath’ will include a return to the writing retreat by the first group of ‘retreaters’ – the weekend went so badly, Sadie offered them a free weekend at the retreat!!!


parts of plot


Now, I can continue to write and fill in parts of the plot I have not completed.  I can move the post-it notes around and rearrange the action.  I can add new scenes.  And I can look at where ideas, sub-plots, symbols and people occur and reoccur.  And I can add any information if needed.


Lots of work to do!


Copyright 2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

March 20, 2015 at 7:25 am

Posted in writing a novel

4 Responses

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  1. I sure agree with this statement “Lots of work to do!” I’m glad it’s you and not me. lol
    But you will reap the rewards of your work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


    March 20, 2015 at 9:35 am

  2. What a lovely paradigm of a creative mind at work! I love the tree sticky notes – a “forest of fiction”! I might need to try something like this for my dissertation planning.

    Liked by 1 person

    Christine Penhale

    March 20, 2015 at 8:28 am

    • Hi Christine. It might help, depending on the subject matter. The sticky notes are very portable and moveable so they might help reorganize tricky material. Jane

      Liked by 1 person

      jane tims

      March 20, 2015 at 5:19 pm

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