NANOWRIMO Plotting Tip

I’m not actually writing a novel in a month. I’m rewriting one I started in 2010 called Switch. It has gone through many rewrites and has been professionally edited several times. I still wasn’t happy with it, so I ignored it for more than a year. I’m starting by summarizing each scene.

Don’t cheap out on post-it notes. Buy them from the dollar store and you risk a frustrating surprise in the morning, like this.


So now I’m doing it a little differently on computer. I’m writing points for each scene under these headings:







This is really helping me see which scenes need a rewrite or to be tossed. I’m colour coding several things as I go along. I’m about 1/5 of the way through my novel. It’s going to be a beast to print.

Then I’ll cut out each scene and plot them on my graph on which  I will have marked with significant stages such as the inciting event, pinch point, midpoint, etc. should happen. I will arrange my scenes on the chart and see if my plot is working. I will examine each point for the details. I’ll cut extraneous details and add in anything important that’s missing in point form.

Writing on the computer makes it more compact and far more legible. I can use speech to text and not have to struggle with handwriting which is a real challenge with Parkinson’s disease. However, I don’t get the big overview which is why I will still tape the scenes onto chart paper.

It’s slow going but I think it will be worth it in the end. These are the two most helpful books I’ve bought for this work.


Click on the covers for more info or to buy the book.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages



7 thoughts on “NANOWRIMO Plotting Tip

    • It is about a teenager in Elizabethan times trying to survive in increasingly dire circumstances with less and less family support available. She has a “gift” that puts her at high risk of hung as a witch. She finds something that she believes will solve all her problems but, in fact, it only increases them.


  1. I’m new here, but I chime in on mapping out the plot (and against post-it notes). For my novel Making Manna, I used a grid. My vertical axis shows points in time. My horizontal axis shows characters and what they are thinking or doing at each point in time. I also had columns for the theme explored at each point in time and the overall mood – not to have too much time gloomy or happy in a row.

    I did it in Excel (expertise from my day job) so I could sort and sift it differently depending on how I wanted to view it.

    I also had success with endnotes in Word. I wrote my overall plot outline as a word document and I entered the finer points as endnotes. That way I could see the overall without the clutter simply by reading the document, or see the details by including the endnotes. Endnotes were also a handy way to plug in notes for something I will do later but thought of now, or did a while ago and need to get back to. The endnote allows me to put the thought where it goes, not lose it (no post-its) before I get around to doing it.


    • I lost my comment so I’ll try again.

      That is a terrific idea using excel that way. I need to improve my expertise with it. I just use it for financial spreadsheets.

      I never thought of using endnotes that way. Clever. I’ve used the “Comment” option under “Review” in Word.

      Yeah, Post-its are pretty old-school. I prefer working on computer but I think I need an overall view. So I’m going to do both but forget the post-its.


  2. Oh, my goodness … I am totally amazed and impressed … and freaked out, such detail, such compulsion … I write my novels by starting with an image visual or verbal impression and writing from there .. when I can’t ‘see’ the context anymore I stop, usually it picks itself up and I can go on … characters arrive with their names, or disappear all by themselves, …
    works for me but not everyone’s method I know!


    • You’re a pantser. Eric sounds like a plotter. I’m a mixture of both.

      However, even if you’re not a plotter, it doesn’t hurt to assess your storyline using the strategies mentioned in the books. It gives you a very clear picture of where your story is dragging etc. I wish I had known these plotting tips from the beginning. It would have saved me a lot of frustration.


  3. Pingback: The Secret of Atalaya: A Carolina Cousins’ Mystery by Rhonda S. Edwards. Book Review. | Bonnie Ferrante – Books for Children

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