When Outlines Attack #2

Back in March 2011, I wrote a blog post about the virtues of outlining for a novelist.  I'm still a firm believer in outlining, particularly for mystery novels.  Otherwise, for me, it would be like trying to successfully drive across a country I've never been in before (say...Bulgaria) without a map, without directions, without an interpreter to translate the road signs.  I don't know about you, but I do not want to be lost in Bulgaria.
Novel #5 is a complex mystery with A LOT of moving parts.  I'm just about to exit the outlining stage and start the actual writing, which will be an immense relief.  Even I, someone who loves to plan, eventually reach the COME ON LET'S JUST *&^%$#@! GO! point.  But #5 has several different subplots that I must meticulously weave together to achieve the desired result - solving the mystery!
My usual sparse outline was not getting the job done for all this warping and woofing.  So, I came up with something I call "plot streams" to make it all work.  I took each subplot and, well, plotted it out chronologically within the world of #5, but without regard to any of the other plot streams.  This eventually required color-coding - criminy!  But now all the various subplots are playing nicely together - the protagonist, the sidekicks, the client, the villains, and, of course, Joe the Bull Terrier.  (He particularly enjoyed the woofs.)

It would give too much away to show you a picture of the plot stream chart.  And probably hurt your brain.  So instead, let me show you a picture of page 1 of #5 so far.  I've known the first line of the story for many years now - super ready to get going on the second!

copyright Amy Briant 2019 all rights reserved


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