Creating a plot map

Okay, I admit it: I’ve let nearly two whole months go by without writing a single new blog post. Until today.

On the down side, I’m kind of a lousy blogger. I started out strong last year, then got so wrapped up in the current work in progress (started back in February) that the blog has definitely taken a back seat to writing. Well, “back seat” suggests that it’s a close second. It’s probably more like way back around the caboose.

On the plus side, I’ve done pretty well at actually writing the first draft of my book. I’m up to 70,000 words, some of which even seem to be reasonably decent, and know how it’ll all wrap up at the end. A couple of people have graciously agreed to read scenes and even chapters from the draft and have given me great feedback on them.

Now, all I have to do is to finalize the plot sequence for the fourth 20% of the draft (in other words, from 60% in to about 80% in). Lots of things happen in this section: the main character and his partner have ID’d their key suspect (someone in their chain of command) and are putting a lot of pieces of the puzzle together–but the killer starts to get the idea that they are on to him. There are complications, too, in the form of an insider in the PD who is trying to find out exactly what the MC and partner know and what evidence they have, as well as a local journalist with a well-placed PD source who leaks embarrassing things to her (and which she then publishes online). There’s another attempted murder, which raises the tension level all around. Tension also comes from the fact that the victim had friends in high places, and one of those friends is all over the police chief about the department’s failure to solve the case.

And, last but not least, this is the section where the killer finds out that the MC is now romantically involved with the one person who can link the killer and victim together (although she doesn’t fully realize this yet herself). And he decides he has to do something about that.

Lots of things happening, lots of interconnections, some twists, and things that have to happen in a certain sequence for it all to make sense.

So I mapped out this part of the plot using sticky notes. I did this once before for the previous WIP and thought it worked well.

This time, I wrote down all the main detective plots on purple notes, then added background things that happen (like the leaks and the insider snooper) on blue and the romantic MC/love interest angles in pink.


This is letting me better visualize the main detective plot line and think about what had to happen and in what sequence. Then it was comparatively easy to add and move the blue background scenes and elements around to make sure that they fit and that the story was logical. There are still more background elements that I need to map out, but at least it’s well in train now.

I’ve been trying to do this plot remapping in Scrivener — writing out scenes and then moving them around. But it was too hard to visualize and grasp the bigger plot picture, and I ended up feeling lost in the plot threads. So now I have the plot mapped out and am about to start moving my Scrivener scenes to match the plot map.

The goal for September is to finish the rough draft, and for the first time, I’m reasonably optimistic that I can do this. Now, off to rejigger the scenes and start writing again.


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