I’ve always been a planner when it comes to my stories (even though spontaneity is important too). Knowing where you’re going is important to writing a story.
But I also find that if you plan just right, you can make the story feel more real, and the more real it feels, the easier it is to right. Of course, you shouldn’t get fantasy and reality mixed up, but if you get really in the zone, the lines may start to blur a little, but so long as they don’t blur too much that you can’t come back, this isn’t a bad thing.
One way I find to help the story is to plan, diagram, and make things. I sketch most of my characters. I draw maps of locations, and sometimes try to make them look as real as possible. I basically bring the story to the real world.
A good map can help diagram a location or scene. Thinking about what else is in a location may open up ideas for details in a scene, or help me avoid plot holes in bigger scenes. A big fight scene can be seriously affected by the environment, and, of course, if there’s a war, I need to keep the tactical plans logical.
Sketches can help give a face to a character, and make them feel more real. Even if the sketches are crude, they help – I’m not a spectacular artist, but I am working on improving.
Other times, I try to replicate real world versions of props. This may help me see how the prop might work, or help me understand how it makes a character feel. I sometimes just used a few similar household objects to represent a prop, but other times, made actual papercrafts.
I also used to (and still sometimes do) play role-playing games with my stories, to help me feel the situation better. These props are a major help with that!
And I always keep these “artifacts” in case I need to reference them later. I’ve got tons of Swogprille-related plans and schemes lying around the house (note to self – buy a new filing cabinet). Plus, they could always be a curiosity to readers later.
Though I don’t make these “artifacts” as much as I used to, I recently drew a diagram for a big scene in a story I’m working on. The scene in question involves an attack at a restaurant, and the details of everything going on was getting quite complicated, so I drew the diagram to help keep things consistent.
If you’re interested, I have a picture of the diagram on Twitter. I recently started using a whiteboard for these. It saves paper, makes it easier to edit, and makes me feel a bit more free to diagram like this more (save the trees!) Mind you, I can’t save these diagrams, but I’ll be sure to take a cell phone picture for future reference. If you follow me on Twitter, I might share some more of them!
The one disadvantage to using a whiteboard, though: it can be a pain in the neck to clean it. If anybody has suggestions on how to better clean a whiteboard, I’m all ears!
And I think I’ve rambled on enough for this week. Be back next week (hopefully). White Rakogis, signing off!