I wrote this article because I always see people on Twitter asking for advice about how to plot out their chapters. The method I use won’t work for everyone and you won’t need every section of the worksheet if you use this method, but you’ll find a copy of this simple worksheet at the end of this article that you can download in .doc .docx and .pdf formats. Tweak it to suit your style and what you need for your chapters. Hopefully, my process for plotting will help you in some small way or give you ideas that work best for you.
The scene I’m working on is from Nytrix, my adult superhero prose so forgive me if I don’t give away too much. Without further ado, here is my method for plotting destruction when I have detailed chapters.
I tried pantsing a novel for the first time during the 2017 NaNoWriMo. (My first time doing NaNo too! Can’t wait to do it again.) Let me tell you, I’m not a pantser & it’s been tough continuing to pants my current WIP. When a story plot festers within me, it’s a linear thing. I come up with a basic idea of the beginning, middle, and end. Then the characters make themselves known, usually in strange ways. I used to use color coded index cards to add plot ideas for chapters, characters, etc, but now I use Scrivener. After NaNo, there have been times when I can’t move past a scene. It just would not flow. Then I realized, “Hey I’m still pantsing this thing”. You’ve driven off the road and need to adjust course, as Sunny would say. I knew it was time to start plotting chapters individually.
A Twitter writer posted her method for plotting chapters. (If you see this, shout out so I can thank you!) Since plotting is almost a requirement for me, I thought of as many things that might go into any given scene and basing it of what I remembered of her process, I came up with this worksheet. The worksheet has sections for everything I need to include in the chapter from emotions to power words. It becomes a miniature road map to help me visualize the scene better and it helps me know exactly what I want to convey before I start writing. I’m less likely to hit a speed bump at 100 MPH now. LOL.
Anyway, I was struggling with my big
finale scene & for me it came down to being a question of setting. The “where”
wasn’t right which caused me to struggle getting words on paper. Keep in mind,
I’m using real places in my current WIP. Once I settled on where my finale
would take place, I began filling out the sections of my worksheet. Considering
how large my setting ended up being, I decided to map out the entire finale, step
by step. The first thing I did was draw maps of the setting and let me tell you
it’s a big place, I needed a map! There were three maps in total: first floor,
second floor with towers, and the grounds. When I finished drawing the maps, I
printed them on regular paper and tapped the sections together. The table is 4
foot by 2 foot.
My next step was to decide on the
players on the field. Since I have two different kinds of maps, interior and exterior,
I have different types of color coded, labeled Legos for each character. The
first set of Lego “people” are going on the maps labeled “First Floor” and “Second
Floor”. The protagonist is the blue and white Lego labeled S written on all
sides with a sharpie. The antagonist labeled L is the red and white. Yellow
Legos are the antagonist’s non-descript goons. I kept them limited to a number
and there are 10 ‘goons’ the protagonist has to defeat before she gets to the
main antagonist. The two blue with yellow bottom Legos (labeled G & R for character
names) are the antagonist’s right hand ‘men’—I say ‘men’ because my main characters
are all women. The red, white, and blue Lego labeled FL is the person our heroine
One the map labeled “Land Map”, I used white Legos for the protagonists supporting cast, two-piece Legos for cars as well as boat because my setting is on the bay, and the eight-piece Legos for larger vehicles like the tactical units.
Here are all the players on the battleground.
Now it’s time to play! I move the Lego people around to plot out the actions step-by-step. I note actions with green stickie notes cut into smaller pieces and placed on the map under the numbered Lego people in the place where they start out at the beginning of the scene.
I’m limited to stickie note colors and I have 3 big maps, two interiors & one exterior. Back to the stickie notes. Green is for the information that represents a step in the action. Pink tells me where the antagonist has taken down an opponent and in one case, the person to rescue. At this point, it can get confusing to distinguish with the stickie colors who the main antagonist is so to distinguish the smaller battles from the final battle between antagonist and protagonist, I used blue stickies instead of green.
It sounds like a lot of work and maybe it is, but it makes plotting so much fun! Look at the action-packed final scene with all the actions laid out in order.
From here, I put all the ‘fight’ actions into my worksheet where they belong in the setting description itself. It is superhero fiction after all so I like to choreograph all the fight scenes.
I may have gone a tad overboard with mapping and the worksheet, which ended up being 19 pages long when I was finished, but doing all this work prior to writing has effectively plotted out the entire scene. All that’s left is for me to put my characters into the fray, add their emotions, dialogue, and sensory effects.
As promised, here are the worksheets:
Thank you for reading. Now go out, plot your own destruction and have fun.