Plotting a new novel on a foam board

So you’ve brainstormed your novel and are ready to plot it – congratulations! Make sure that you’ve read many books in your genre, books that would compare with yours when you are ready to write your proposal. When you read these books, pay attention to how many points of view (POV) there are in those novels. Make sure that the POV’s you have make sense to compare to these published novels.

So you have decided who your main character will be. You’ve decided who will get a voice (POV) in your novel. Each character that has a POV must have a GMC (Goal Motivation Conflict) chart. They must grow emotionally, learn a life lesson. Consider answering Susan May Warren’s My Book Therapy questions to deepen your characters even more before you write that first sentence.

There are so many ways to plot a novel.

  1. Many people write a synopsis and use that as a guide as they write each scene.
  2. Some people write what comes to mind, when they are done they print the scenes out and lay them on the floor and order them appropriately.
  3. Some people write a general synopsis followed by a chapter by chapter outline, keeping each chapter outline under one page.

I’ve tried plotting using an excel spreadsheet, but since I am visual, it doesn’t work for me. Once I have the plot down using sticky notes (yes I said sticky notes), I do transfer it to an excel spread sheet. Email me and I’ll send you a copy.

Purchase foam board. Use a ruler and sharpie to divide the board into sections—5 across and 8 down. This gives you forty squares. Each square is for a chapter. The first photo I have is of a novel with thirty chapters. I used the top line to put sticky notes describing the novel. You’ll notice the bottom line is left blank. The forty squares allows you to reuse this board in the future for a 40 or 35 or 30 chapter novel.

You can do the colors of the sticky notes in whatever way you like. You can have a color for each POV character. You can have a color for each storyline. Pick what works for you.

In the first example I posted I used a different color for each storyline. Each chapter in this novel has two scenes. You’ll notice that in some chapter blocks I had up to six colors – three per scene. Each note represented a storyline. Of course, the storylines intersect. The second photo is of a novel with forty chapters. I mostly used one color for each of the two character POV’s

During this process you need to do what works for you visually and creatively. I hope this helps you in your process!

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2 Responses to “Plotting a new novel on a foam board”

  1. Great post, Heidi. I know someone who just did this and it worked very well for them!

    Also, I just love your name 🙂 I know a Heidi and I know several Mains.. For some reason, the two names together just look great! I always like to see your posts on FB roll up: “oh! There’s Heidi Main! Makes me smile every time!

  2. Katie,

    You are so sweet! When I was younger I could not wait until I turned 18 years old – I was going to change my name to Suzie. I HATED having a unique name. Now I could not imagine another name!! ~ Heidi

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