10. Advanced Plotting: Consistency and Clarity

Not only for diabolical villains.

It’s time to weave all the elements of your story into a bulletproof plot, identifying the holes and patching them up and ensuring there are no carts coming before horses, that sort of thing.

A large block of text is not very good for giving you information at a glance and making it easy to move things about without getting tangled up, so at this stage it’s best to create a spreadsheet (or use some purpose built software).

Make a list of all scenes and plot points (colour coding them if you want to get fancy).

A scene can be defined as: A subdivision of an act in a dramatic presentation in which the setting is fixed and the time continuous. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/scene). For more guidance on scenes, see this post.

A plot point is something important you need to remember to put in, but isn’t actually a whole scene – such as: Bob discovers the knife in her knicker drawer.

Once you’ve got your list, you can set about checking your Head and Tail Scenes, ensuring there are no gaps or unexpected leaps and that you're following the Goal >> Conflict >> Disaster >> Reaction >> Dilemma >> Decision cycle. You may have loose plot points that need to be assigned a scene, or even given a new one. If you do create a new scene, you’ll need to create its partner Head or Tail.

Keep shuffling, adding, editing and deleting until you’re satisfied that your plot is in good shape. Once your happy with it, we'll move onto checking multiple threads.

If you enjoyed this post, then you should probably check out the Novel Factory.

Or you can go onto the next step of advanced plotting - dealing with multiple threads.