July 25, 2010

Secrets and Office Supplies

I previously wrote about using index cards to plan a revision. I expect I'll be doing some form of index card event rearrangement before I embark on my third draft, but I'm not quite ready for that step yet. First, I have a specific aspect of the novel I want to focus on. I also have a large collection of sticky notes. These forces came together to create the Secrets Chart:

secrets chart

THE EXTENT OF THE DAMAGE contains a lot of secrets. Characters know things that other characters don't know. Or they know things and don't know that other characters do know them. Sometimes the reader knows things the characters don't. This last part is of particular interest, because I'm writing a novel set in three different time periods. That means the reader often has information about the past and/or future that the characters aren't aware of. It can all get a bit tricky for an author to keep track of.

I created the Secrets Chart to give me a visual representation of the secrets in the story. The chart is made of sticky notes (on the back of some ugly wrapping paper I was never going to use) so that I can rearrange as I puzzle out the necessary changes. This is not a simple problem to solve, and I think I'm going to be working on it for a while.

detail of secrets chart

There's information encoded in the different colors and columns of the chart, but what it all means isn't important to anyone but me. I'm putting this out there to demonstrate that there are a lot of possibilities for looking at the big picture of a story by turning it into something more than text.

Oh, and in case anyone was worried, I have still been writing things on index cards:

index cards

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Laura Miller discusses the fine art of recommending books. (Thanks, Bookninja!)

→ Alicia Rasley at edittorrent responds to the rule that says not to use adjectives and adverbs.

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