Wednesday, September 05, 2012

More 3x5 Card Plotting is Here!!!

For all of my new followers (or "older" ones, too!) here is my original post on 3x5 Card Plotting from about a year ago:

And here is the video about it from WriteOnCon from three weeks ago:

I promised more tips and details so here we go!

As you'll see,this is definitely part of The Hero's Journey Method of getting ideas for your novel, defining your characters, the ARC of the story, as well as high and low points. Once you get your 3x5 card plotting done, you'll see all/most of these elements in your cards/scenes.

Going over this checklist can be a great way to make sure you don't have holes - or to identify where you might have holes in your cards. They do NOT have to all be *carded* and filled in and identified when you start drafting because ideas will continue to come to you as you begin writing and the characters take off and come to life. 

**In fact, just yesterday as I was gathering my cards to start drafting my new book, an epiphany came to me as to how I could make a plot element become extra motivation to solve the mystery/problem for my main character as well as make it part of her inner, emotional element. I'd been wondering if I even needed that particular plot & character element for my MC's mother (she's 6 months pregnant), but now it's going to work even better in the story's mystery and plot as well as a much needed element for that elusive emotional residue. It's not just a peripheral, "I'll throw this in just because it might be kinda cool, or I need to flesh out the Mother character". Now that element is NEEDED to make the story work on so many more levels. Cool, eh? I was pretty excited. And all because I'd had my cards spread out on the rug and was picking them up in order. Our subconsciousness (The Muse) keeps on working and figuring things out.

- Opening image

- Meet the hero or heroine
- Hero/ine’s inner and outer desire.

- Hero/ine's past wounds, problems
- Hero/ine’s arc
- Inciting Incident/Call to Adventure
- Meet the antagonist (and/or introduce a mystery, which is what you do when you’re going to keep your antagonist hidden to reveal at the end)

- State the theme/what’s the story about?

- Allies

- Mentor
 (possibly. May not have one or may be revealed later in the story).
- Love interest 
 (may or may not work for MG books, of course!)
- Plant/Reveal (or: Set ups and Payoffs)

- Hope/Fear (and Stakes)

- Time Clock (possibly. May not have one or may be revealed later in the story)

- Central Story Question
 or Problem 

- Crossing the Threshold/ Into the Special World
- Threshold Guardian (maybe)
- Hero/ine’s Plan
- Antagonist’s Plan
- Training Sequence
- Series of Tests
- Picking up new Allies
- Assembling the Team
- Attacks by the Antagonist (whether or not the Hero/ine recognizes these as being from the antagonist)
- In a detective story, questioning witnesses, lining up and eliminating suspects, following clues.


- Completely changes the game
- Locks the hero/ine into a situation or action
- Can be a huge revelation
- Can be a huge defeat
- Can be a “now it’s personal” loss

- Recalibrating – after the shock or defeat of the game-changer in the Midpoint, the hero/ine must Revamp The Plan and try a New Mode of Attack.
- Escalating Actions/ Obsessive Drive
- Hard Choices and Crossing The Line (immoral actions by the main character to get what s/he wants)
- Loss of Key Allies (possibly because of the hero/ine’s obsessive actions, possibly through death or injury by the antagonist).
- A Ticking Clock (can happen anywhere in the story)
- Reversals and Revelations/Twists
- The Long Dark Night of the Soul and/or Visit to Death (aka All Is Lost)
- Often can be a final revelation before the end game: the knowledge of who the opponent really is. 

**Now we're coming up on the Final 25-30% of the book:

-Answers the Central Question
-Final Battle and Resolution. It can often be one continuous sequence – the chase and confrontation, or confrontation and chase. There may be a final preparation for battle, or it might be done on the fly.
-The hero will make a new, FINAL PLAN, based on the new information and revelations.
-Final showdown between protagonist and antagonist. It is often divided into two sequences:

1- Getting there (Storming the castle)
2- The final battle itself

- Thematic Location - often a visual and literal representation of the Hero/ine’s Greatest Nightmare
- The protagonist’s character change
- The antagonist’s character change (if any)
- Possibly allies’ character changes and/or gaining of desire

- There could also be one last huge reveal or twist, or series of reveals and twists, or series of final payoffs you've been saving (as in BACK TO THE FUTURE or IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE).

**I've got one of these twists in my book CIRCLE OF SECRETS and my upcoming  WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME. I've got one planned in this new book, too, which will be a final scene or an Epilogue.

- RESOLUTION: A glimpse into the New Way of Life that the heroine will be living after this whole ordeal and all she’s learned from it.

Hope this outline helps in your own plotting or 3x5 card scribbling, throw them on the floor, and pick them up again adventure!

Final Installment (at least for now) on 3x5 Card Plotting tomorrow!

Thoughts? Ideas? Questions? Fire away!!!


Donna K. Weaver said...

What a fabulous breakdown of your system. I like to use 3x5 sticky notes and a large white board. Plus, I type the stuff on my computer and print it to the post it notes.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome tips. I've seen this method before. I can't seem to outline so completely, though I do have to know my major plot points before I start.

Loved your vlog on WriteOnCon too.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Thank you for your comments, ladies!

Donna, interesting variation on what is basically the same method. Typing yo9ur notes and using a white board and sticky's! :-)

And yes, Natalie, this is exactly how I get those major plot points down so I can see them as I write.

I have another post today on further thoughts and an inspiring true story - ha!

Happy Weekend!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kimberly! I learned a lot from your video when I saw it at WriteOnCon. Thanks!



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