organizing an epic

Discussion in 'Writers Forum' started by kitty fabulous, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. kitty fabulous

    kitty fabulous smoked tofu

    my current writing project is quickly getting too big for me to handle. i'm not furthering the plot because i'm drowning in backstory. this is the system i came up with to help me prioritize and keep track of how much and what kind of writing i need to be doing.

    i wanted to come up with a sort of a timeline, and had difficulty organizing my thoughts. i decided to use a system of color-coded index cards. an event is written on each index card. the color of the card tells me the kind of writing i need to do, and how much it needs to be developed.

    for example, i may use blue cards for past events that affect the story, or how a people or character develops, such as the conquering of a tribe, a cultural myth, or the founding of a city.

    white cards are used for events that happen within the story, that will directly effect plot development and will be experienced by characters and described in detail, such as the main character beginning a journey, two characters meeting, or a major character's death.

    yellow cards can be used for events that happen elsewhere during the story, but have an indirect effect on the plot, or that are only alluded to or not directly experienced by important characters, such as a war in another country.

    i can write about the event from each card, and write my chapters around the events on the white cards. if i find i'm doing more writing from blue cards than white, i know i need to concentrate less on exposition and more on plot. if i'm doing a lot of writing from yellow cards, i know i'm probably wasting time, procrastinating, and need to examine what event on the blue or white cards has me so stuck that i'm avoiding it, and see what i can do to make it more interesting or easier to write.

    the cards can be arranged on a flexible timeline, so they can be moved around if i need to make changes. the events on the cards can be used as a starting point for freewrites, and the freewrites can be organized according to the timeline to help me keep track of how events are flowing and where the weak places are that i need to work on some more.
  2. SelfControl

    SelfControl Boned.

    It sounds maddening. However, I did have a similar thing going, albeit with a less epic story. It's possibly not worth saying, but I was told by one of my very good teachers that "if you can't explain your plot in one sentence to your grandmother, it's too complicated". I see where he's coming from. Maybe you should organise it as plot threads, various plots either following on from one another or running parallel. I'm not going to criticise yr system to deeply though, as I'm not sure I even get it.
  3. kitty fabulous

    kitty fabulous smoked tofu

    explaining the plot in one sentence, good idea. ok let's try it. my main character introduces a plant from her own culture into the foriegn culture she grew up in, and as a result both cultures change dramatically, eventually leading up to the invasion & enslavement of her people, and war between the two cultures.

    i use the index cards because they force me to deal with one thought at a time. yeah, plot threads, i guess. the color-coding system helps me prioritze. probably won't work for everybody, but having a method of organization that is both visual and tangible meets my needs the best. i was totally lost trying to work with outlines.
  4. kidder

    kidder Member

    Get out a tape recorder. Relax. Have a cigarette or your favourite. Then share the story. Great stories are also stories that build naturally and upon retelling ache to be cunningly embellished. Share it with yourself. Better still, have a friend over, keep the tape on and tell the story to him (or her). Oh, yes, tell him (or her) to shutup before you start.

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