How A Madman Organizes His Book’s Plot

So, while The Year of Lightning is being prepped for publication this fall, I’m also hard at work on book 2. In examining my creative process, there’s one stage that I realized I’m most fond of. Partly, I enjoy it because it helps me examine the story progression visually and identify areas that need further development or rearrangement. Partly, I also enjoy that it makes my office look like the lair of a semi-sane supervillain as he plots the downfall of his enemies.

Behold, my supervillain-style sticky note timeline!

I used the same process for The Year of Lightning, and it was actually a great way to manage the flow of the story without having to keep all the plot elements in my head.

What about you? If you’re a plotter, what type of outline do you prefer? If you’re a pantser, how much of the story do you have in mind when you sit down to write?

Whatever your process, suit up and get writing!

5 thoughts on “How A Madman Organizes His Book’s Plot

  1. Ben

    I like to use a word doc with setting and character lists for each scene along with a few sentences about what happens. I like yours though. I may set up a secret cupboard at work and give the post it method a try!

  2. Ryan Dalton Post author

    I’ve done something similar to your method in the past and it also works. Hope you like the supervillain method!

  3. James Sabata

    I use a combination of the hero’s journey and the three act structure. In the past, I used note cards, stuck to a corkboard, much like your sticky note method, but for my newest novel, I’ve begun using scrivener. I’m really digging it as it’s very similar to the corkboard, only I can save it, so I can work three or four stories at once. Given that I use this same method for my short stories, I’m often working on four things at once, so it comes in handy. 🙂

    1. Ryan Dalton Post author

      I have Scrivener, but I’m a bit afraid to start using it. I hear that it’s great but can be overwhelming, and right now I just don’t have the time to stop and learn it. Eventually, though, I’ll sit down and start playing around with it.


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