Way back when I started this blog, I wrote a “Writing a Novel” series of posts. In step 1, you got your concepts, characters and images together. In step 2, you wrote a summary of each chapter. That’s how it worked out for me when writing Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog.
Now that I have my Step 1 materials in place for Transformational Paraphysics, I found that I had a gap before hitting Step 2. I had everything I thought I needed, but as I was planning the pacing of the book I realized that I needed more action in key places. The plot, while interesting, logical, etc., necessarily had a non-action based resolution. Well, there was some, but not enough for a good literary/adventure novel climax. This book is not supposed to be some moving pastorale, so I needed a change. Well, not really a change — I just needed more. The story itself was solid from a character and theme perspective.
I need a B Plot. LFBD did not really have a B Plot. It was a straight-through story. TPOAP has a different pace, and the action isn’t always being driven externally. A lot of it is the team figuring stuff out, which can be a little boring if done wrong. Enter the B Plot. I found something that made sense thematically, spurred off as a logical consequence of the A Plot, and had tie-ins throughout the story.
The problem now was in exactly how to weave the A and B Plots together. It wasn’t necessarily straightforward.
So, I’ve found myself at Writing a Novel: Part 1.5. Before I was able to start the chapter summaries, I needed to make sure that everything worked and that the right pacing was maintained. I try to maintain an even/odd cadence of chapters where we do Action, then Rest, then Action, then Rest, etc. It doesn’t always work that way, and maybe leading up to big Action you have two Rests.
I knew all of the story beats of the A Plot, and all of the beats of the B Plot, so I used one of my favorite organizational tools (Trello) to write each one out as a movable card (check the software to see what I’m talking about). I made two lists, one for each plot line. Then I made three more lists: Act I, Act II, Act III. Then I started putting the cards into the acts and shuffling them around until it all made sense.
As I did this, the great thing happened where opportunities started to present themselves. Like “Oh, if this happens after that, then this person could go _________ and it would be awesome!”
With all of the story beats for both plots nicely interwoven on the Trello board, I was able to start writing up the chapter summaries with confidence.Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)