Following a recent hard-drive meltdown (terminal, data irretrievable) I was tempted to write a paragraph or two containing heartfelt advice on the importance of backing up and strategies for the recall of those vital lost 15,000 words along with all that minute and intricate plotting… but that would be to admit my own stupidity.
Instead, I thought I would trumpet my new, helicopter–view plotting method, finally perfected after much trial and error, and proving invaluable in the design of my forthcoming thriller series for children; ‘The Mysterium’.
(Book 1; ‘The Black Dragon’ will be published by Hodder Childrens Books in July 2013.)
As an apprentice screenwriter I have often worked from index cards, one per scene as classically advised – and found the shuffling and laying out of these to be very helpful. But for the weaving plot lines of a three book thriller, I wanted to to see each book at a single glance, and to refer quickly from one to the other. I wanted flexibility – and then firm decisions.
Typing the main plot out, bullet point like, sticking to two pages per book, gave me some authoritative looking type. Physically cutting, shuffling, re-shuffling and finally Prit-sticking these down onto an A2 sheet gave me just enough room to draw lines, add gnomic notes, plan pace, scribble acronymic advice to self – and see the whole shape at one go. Stuck on the wall above my desk the chart gives the distinct impression that I know what I’m doing – and works far better than other methods I have tried before.
I then proceed to ignore it completely and plough on regardless into the twists and turns of my hero’s unfolding, traumatic journey…
…but when I found myself staring at a question mark and nothing else on my defunct Mac – and no specialist could retrieve that lost chunk of un-backed up book 2 – the chart on the wall gave me friendly reassurance and a very useful emergency map.
Even if I still couldn’t decipher all the scribbled messages or acronyms.