How do you plan the stories?
It starts with an idea, which exists initially only in my head. I try to keep this basic essence of the plot to about two paragraphs worth, and it has to cover the following: Protagonist, Objective, Obstacle, Escalation and Ending. That’s right, I make sure all my stories are pooee.
I’ll then mull it over in my imagination for a while to check it hangs together as a narrative, and that it keeps my interest. In order to be used for a NiaD, the plot has to satisfy the following criteria:
- It wouldn’t require anyone to get stuck with a large chunk of exposition instead of action.
- The pacing works well. Ie, each part of the story should be fun to write.
- It’s not something I’ve already read somewhere else.
- It’s a story I’d really like to read.
I throw away a lot of good ideas because they wouldn’t work in this format.
Once I’ve lived with the story for a short while, I’ll open up Scrivener and use the Corkboard to start playing with key plot points and elements (I have a template set up specifically for this purpose). This includes the necessary steps on the original plot line, plus any fun scenes I think of. Chances are the ‘fun scenes’ will expand into sub-plot lines as I move them around on the ‘board. In 2012’s NiaD, Lunar520, one of these ‘fun’ set pieces got large enough that I threw out the original plot and just used that.
At this point, the index card synopses are just one sentence markers, such as “The Doc tries it on”. I’ll then expand these to be two or three sentence versions. At this point I’ll either combine or split these points into sensible chapter breaks.
Once I have a set of chapter blurbs that work, I’ll take a short break (a couple of days) so that I can come back to it afresh. I’ll compile a one page sheet that just lists the synopses in order, and read through that (making any changes that are necessary). At that point, I’ll start to turn each synopsis into a chapter brief.
After all the chapter briefs are done, I’ll add the other sections in the briefing packs (the ‘This has already happened’ type elements), and re-read to make sure it all hangs together and that I’d be happy if I received any of those chapters to do myself.
If you download the Scrivener project file for 2013’s NiaD, Made Man, both the two sentence synopses and the more worked up chapter briefs are stored as Snapshots, so you can get a better idea of what I mean.
For more info on the various steps I take to planning a NiaD, visit: pigfender.com/index.php/2016/03/how-to-plot/