Since all I ever do when I sit down to work on my sequel to Do You Know the Monkey Man is rewrite chapter one, I decided I wasn’t going to work on chapter one over the weekend. Instead, I decided to work on the structure of the story as a whole. After all, Peachtree is going to want to see something of a synopsis in addition to the three chapters. So I sat down with a little tablet of neon pink post-it notes (because my kids have stolen all the good colors out of my drawer) and listed each plot point that I’ve come up with on a separate pink post-it note. Then I laid them all out in order on a big board.

After that, I grabbed a little tablet of purple post-it notes and wrote out what happens as a result of each plot point and stuck it next to the appropriate neon pink note. Sometimes this involved taking off the next neon pink plot point and replacing it with a purple result note that said the same thing as the original neon pink plot point note. Sometimes I’m just plain missing a purple post-it note because I don’t know what happens as a result of some plot point. But I was surprised how often I could fill in a purple note. And what was interesting about this little exercise is I realized that aside from the two gaping holes in the middle, I have more of a plot than I realized! Things are happening…T.J. is taking action…there’s even cause and effect (isn’t a plot merely the string of events in your story held together by cause and effect?).

I’m also able to see at a glance where I need to work on this story. I see the holes in the plot…I see where there is no cause and effect. Hmm…maybe I should bring in a third color and label motivation for each plot point…that might be interesting…?

The main thing I’m still working on in this story (THIS COULD BE A SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN’T READ DO YOU KNOW THE MONKEY MAN AND YOU INTEND TO!!!!) is the relationship between T.J. and Sam. I know what Sam wants (she actually wants two things), but I haven’t thought much about what she does to get what she wants and how that affects T.J. and her story. Once I’m able to get that clearer in my head, I think this story will really start to come to life.

I’ve also figured out 2 1/2 potential “bomb shells” I could drop into this story. I say 2 1/2 because the second and third possibilities I came up with are related, but the third one is more dramatic, so that would be the one I’d likely go with. But I need to figure out what the ramifications of each of those potential bomb shells would be before I figure out which one to go with. And then I need to look at my board of pink and purple post-it notes and see if I can weave the bomb shell into the story. If I’m lucky, it’ll fill in those gaps I have in the middle of my plot. If I’m unlucky, I’ll end up with a huge mess.

A new approach…

2 thoughts on “A new approach…

  • September 11, 2006 at 5:06 pm

    Interesting technique. Maybe I’ll try that someday. Good luck and keep plugging away.

    • September 11, 2006 at 6:52 pm

      Thanks. I keep telling myself the slower it is now, the faster I’ll be able to go when I turn back to the actual manuscript. I just haven’t struggled this much with a book before…and I never expected to struggle so much with this particular book…I knew I wanted to write this before I ever even finished (much less sold!) the first book about these characters.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *