What I'm reading: New Blood, by Gail Dayton; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
We pause for a brief commercial interruption:
RELEASE DAY! True, it's a free read, but it's still fun. "THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PAGE" is available now from Cerridwen Press.
And this is the last week to enter my contest for a chance to win a copy of Lee Lofland's fabulous reference book, "Police Procedure & Investigation." Details on my website. Don't wait too long.
Back to your regularly scheduled blog post.
I was asked by my RWA chapter to present some of my 'plotting for non-plotters' techniques at their next meeting—which is this Saturday.
I'll bring my story board, of course. I'll be presenting with another member of the chapter, erotic romance author Lara Dien, and we're going to get together Wednesday evening to figure out what we're going to say.
And, the members usually want handouts. I like getting handouts. But now I have to create one – before I give the talk. To me, that sounds suspiciously like plotting in advance!
I'll be working on that this week. And yes, once I have it done, I'll share. And if Lara has a handout, I'll share hers too.
As for the storyboard tracking. I'm moving forward, as you might be able to tell if you compare this picture with the one I posted the last time I discussed my discovery of this technique.
And here's my idea board.
My only new addition to the storyboard: time. I normally do this on the computer, in the master file, but I've really been enjoying being able to look at the whole book without having to search the manuscript, so I've added neon green stickies reminding me which day it is (and I'm in chapter 20, and day 3 has just dawned.
Time is always a challenge when I'm writing more than one POV character when they're not on the same page. Character 1 might be off investigating the crime, while character 2 is telling her friend about getting mugged. Character 3 might be off jogging. I'd settled into a 'routine' – each chapter began with a scene in Gordon, my cop's POV, and the second scene was from either Megan's or Justin's, and they'd alternate. You can kind of see this on the storyboard: Gordon's green, Megan is pink, and Justin is blue.
Then I hit chapter 19. I knew at some point, I'd have to deal with his attraction to the waitress, and this seemed to be when he demanded it happen. The scene carried over into the "morning after." (It was also a bit strange to have an abbreviated, mostly off-the-page sex scene after writing 6 romances). So, I was now in the morning of day 3.
Only trouble was, Megan and Justin were having dinner on day 2 in the previous scene. To keep the time continuity clear, I'd have to jump ahead to the next day. But there were critical plot points that had to be covered.
At least Megan and Justin were together, so when I popped back into their POV scene, it would be when we left off.
When I read the chapter, I realized I was asking the reader to figure out that they'd just jumped back in time to the previous night. It made more sense to flip the scenes in that chapter. The other alternative, which didn't feel right, would have been to have a really long chapter to bring Justin and Megan into the morning of Day 3. While I don't have any rules as to how long a chapter or scene should be, each scene seems to feel complete at about the 4-6 page mark.
Another possibility would have been to have added Justin's scene to chapter 19, making it a three-scene chapter.
Is any of it 'right' or 'wrong'? I don't think so. Some authors will put date, time, and place headers in each chapter or scene of their books. I find that I gloss over or ignore them, wanting to know what's happening more than where or when, so I don't choose to add them to my books. I suppose if I had a lot of threads where characters were all over, I might consider it.
Scenes and chapters don't have to conform to any given length. So, adding a third scene wouldn't be 'wrong' either. It just didn't feel right.
And that seems to be how I write. It has to flow in such a way that it makes sense to me first.
What's your preference on following time when dealing with stories where the POV characters aren't together?
Tomorrow, my guest is author Blair Bancroft, who's going to recap her special tour of the FBI from the Romance Writer's of America conference. I'm regretting not being able to go even more. You won't want to miss it.