Indie Author Weekly

148: How I mapped out parallel plot lines for my current romcom WIP

May 23, 2023 Sagan Morrow Episode 149
Indie Author Weekly
148: How I mapped out parallel plot lines for my current romcom WIP
Show Notes Transcript

Curious about how an author organizes themes, plots, scene ideas, chapter outlines, etc? We’re covering all of that in this behind-the-scenes look at my current work-in-progress, Book 8 of the Polyamorous Passions series! 

This episode includes:

  • Follow up to Episode 147 — re: going back to the drawing board with my current romcom work-in-progress novel (Book 8 in the Polyamorous Passions series)
  • The 3 main plotlines and 2 core themes featured in Book 8
  • 4-step process for how I mapped out the parallel plot lines with incorporating the core themes throughout the story
  • My colour-coded sticky note method for mapping out major plot lines with the themes for the beginning, middle, and end of the story, as well as my colour-coded sticky note method for organizing scenes into the chapters
  • How I use a Google doc for organizing my chapter outlines with the parallel plot lines, core themes, and additional subplots and scenes

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Hello and welcome to the indie author weekly podcast where you get to hear about the behind the scenes journey of my adventures as an indie author. I'm your host Sagan Morrow, and I am the author of seven romantic comedy novels in the polyamorous question series, plus several business books for several viewers. Now in this episode, I wanted to follow up on episode 147 and share about the logistics behind how I mapped out their parallel plotlines in one of my upcoming novels. So if you have listened to recent episodes, then you will know that I'm currently working on book eight in a polyamorous fashion series. And I would definitely recommend that you do check out episode 147 Because I gave a bit of background about how I was mapping things out I kind of went back to the drawing board with this particular manuscript and I mapped a bunch of things out. So go back, listen to episode 147, and then then tune into this one. So if you're, if you're watching this episode on YouTube, then you're gonna get a little bit better insights. If you are listening to this podcast episode on any other podcast platform, I will do my best to describe things accurately enough so that you can understand it. But I would recommend maybe checking out the YouTube version of this episode, because as you can see behind me I have all kinds of fun poster paper with other kind of sticky notes on it that I hope gives you little bit of visual for what we are talking about today. So I want to share with you the four steps that I kind of chucked out to this novel. These were things that I did over the course of a two day period. So this is how I figured out all of the plans for book eight in the polyamorous passion series. So the first thing that I did when I was mapping out to these parallel plot lines and my upcoming novels, the first step was to identify specific themes and also the specific major plots within the book. So there was two themes and three major plot lines. I'll give you a brief overview of what these kind of look like with the plot lines. For more details, I would recommend reading book seven in polyamorous fashion series. It's called her a bad idea. And it is really the beginning of scarlet story. So book seven eight and nine in the polyamorous question series. Follow Scarlett, she's main character. So that started with the previous book book seven, which is already published. And so now we are working on book eight, which is a follow up a continuation of the story that really begins in book seven of the polyamorous action series. So the three plotlines outline plot number one, and again, this is for book eight, right? This is the book that I'm working on right now. Plot number one is that the owner of the dusky Panther nightclub, Zach wants to turn the ASCII Panther into a burlesque club, and he wants Scarlett the main character who's also burlesque dancer. He wants her to be the main event he wants her to be exclusively dancing. At the dusky Panther. That's what he wants. So that is kind of the first plotline, Scarlett kind of used to decide whether she wants to do that or whether she wants to kind of give up the rest of her dancing and the other types of things that he does and if she wants to only exclusively be at Dustin out there. The second plot is about Pete who sort of like meets in book seven, and he's, he's her boyfriend. He is non monogamous, and Scarlett is wrestling with coming to terms with that in this in this novel that I'm now working on. That's kind of the main thing that's happening with Kate. She's trying to figure out how does she feel about them not being exclusive, and all those sorts of pieces and then the third plotline is about Scarlet unrequited crush best who we have actually heard about since book one in a polyamorous passion series. It is a very, very slow burn plotline. And in the stuff that I'm working on right now, that gets engaged to someone else, so Scarlett has to deal with some that some of those types of things. And so those are kind of the three parallel plotline. So these three things are all kind of happening. At the same time throughout this book. Now the two themes that I that I am using that are underpinning this entire novel, are exclusivity and trust. So with exclusivity, we're exploring a lot around different fears about being exclusive versus non exclusive. We're exploring a lot of different insecurities that people have within themselves with their relationships. to each other to other people with their careers, and also the concept of desirability, exclusivity as equally and desirability the polyamorous passion series really explores explores alternatives to not to one the polyamorous question series explores alternatives to monogamy and it really looks at all different types of ethical non monogamy. So that's one of the reasons why we really want exclusivity and you know, the the desirability aspect versus not to kind of be incorporated and infused and all of these different books, right. So that's kind of fun to play with. The other. The other theme is all about trust. So in that sense, you know infusing these three plotlines with, you know, confidence or confidence issues, feeling stuck, right that stuckness or feeling in a rush, that type of thing. And then also, you know, running away right, so all of these different types of pieces, again, is sort of the trust within yourself, trust with other people in your relationships with them, trust in your expertise and skill set. All of those types of pieces come into play. Now, throughout this process of mapping out of identifying the specific themes and plot lines, I was also revisiting previous novels in the series to reacquaint myself with the character so I was kind of looking at alright, you know what, what are the different characters doing and thinking and feeling and previous books that I can draw on and bring to the present to the current document. So that was the first step of this whole logistics around mapping out my novel. The first step was identifying what are the core themes and what are the core plot lines. Once I knew what the main themes were, that I wanted to explore, and also with the general core plot lines, that look like then I moved on to the next step, step two, and here's where I used color coded sticky notes for mapping out the beginning, middle and end with each plotline. So if you are watching, you're on YouTube, and you can see behind me I'm just gonna move my camera that you can see this I have a ton of poster paper behind me if you are listening to this episode on other podcasting platforms, and just know that I am in my office and I'm surrounded by those repeaters that delegate and sticky notes. I love my color coded stickies. So you can see this poster here that I'm pointing to right now that there are a series of columns where we have a column of blue sticky notes, a column of yellow sticky notes and a column of pink sticky notes. And there are essentially three columns for that. So there's one column that has one big column, and within it are the three smaller columns of blue, yellow, pink, sticky notes, and then the second column is the same thing blue, yellow, pink sticky notes, the third column, the same thing blue, yellow, pink sticky notes. So each of those indicates a different plotline. So it's basically three rows, and I don't you can't quite see it, you can't quite see it. But there's essentially three rows. And so each one each one each row has a series of blue and pink, blue, yellow and pink sticky notes. I hope that this makes sense. So what I have here, what I've mapped out is I wanted to have the different aspects that are going on within the main plots. So the blue sticky notes are the inciting incidents, the thing that happens, so we kind of have six of those for Yeah, we have six of those for each of the three plot lines, six blue sticky notes for each of the three plot lines, kind of the the first thing that occurs the first time it happens. So for example, Zach, the owner of a dusty counter telling Scarlett, I want to transmit over this club, right? The orange sticky notes are how the characters feel, what they're feeling, what they're thinking, the emotions that are going through and how they react to the thing that happens. So the orange sticky notes is the response as a result of the blue sticky note which is the first thing that happens. And then the pink sticky note is the effect of the characters actions. So how they kind of feel and think then they're going to react and then what happens next as a result of those actions. So that's how I mapped out the different plot lines, but those themes kind of infused in them. And so I had three things that happened for each plotline at the beginning, the middle and the end of the book. Alright, so there are three plots, three plots to this novel. And each plot had three things that happened one of the beginning one of the middle one of the end, three tears reactions to the thing that happened when it beginning, middle and end and then three results of those actions are at the beginning, middle and end. As you can see, I mean that is kind of how that's all mapped out there. After mapping out those core plots and the themes intertwined in them, right because some of them would be things like the orange the orange sticky note the way that the character is feeling. It might be you know, insecurities around things or wanting to be exclusive or fears around exclusivity, right like the themes were woven into it as a result. So after I knock out those cord, plotlines and other themes that we find, then we move on to step three. And this is where I used color coded stickies for each of the chapters and identifying what happens in different areas. So taking my original poster paper with all of those sticky notes and then figuring out okay, if all of these things are happening somewhere in the beginning of the novel, one thing is happening with ASCII Panther, one thing is happening with heat and other things happening with West what are the actual order of those things and how are they integrated? How are they interconnected? How are they affecting one another, right? So that is where we have another poster paper, and I mapped out this poster paper into 12 big squares. Each of the 12 big squares represent each of the chapters. So this time with my color coded sticky notes. I use a different color a sticky note for each of the plot points. So we have the pink is destiny Panther, the blue is is eat, and then the green is last. All right, and the big orange ones that you can see near the bottom. That is where a whole bunch of things are sort of culminating together in the last three chapters. And this is where the three different plot points are really coming together very beautifully. So in this instance, you know I was figuring out the order of the scenes happening with each of the three interwoven blocks and how they kind of affected by that or so I was taking the main scenes or the main concepts I've mapped out in the previous step, step two, right, right. And that other poster paper that was taking what I've done there, and identifying which specific chapter those might fit into, on my new chapter outline, poster paper. So as I was working on this, I was, you know, writing down the concept, and then I would stick it on where I thought it might be. And then a few minutes later, you know, or 20 minutes later, as I was adding in other sticky notes, I realized, Oh, well
the sticky notes actually moved to a different chapter. So it's moving things around a lot. And as you can see, we just have one or two sticky notes per plotline for each chapter. So in chapter six, I have one sticky note indicating something's going on with West one sticky note indicating something's happening with Pete and then I have two, four indicating something's happening really big with the dusky Panther in that particular chapter. And then in some of the other ones, I only have two sticky notes. So chapter eight, no destiny camp things are happening and all about PDMS right. So I was kind of just moving things around identifying how are they all fitting together, which scenes are happening, which sort of times so it was really important here to ensure that the that there were the thematic parallels across each of the three plotlines really connected together and in some cases they mirror one another very beautifully. So there are there are instances in this novel where starlet has creative blocks. She has an identity crisis and that might come into play when she finds out that West is getting engaged, right her unrequited crush. There's a relationship right that that happens between a couple of the characters right when a business contract has been signed. So there's all different kinds of things that are kind of mirroring one another. This part was really my favorite part of mapping everything out. I love exploring how everything connected fits together, and how there's something going on in one aspect of scarless life was mirrored or affected another aspect of her life. I really, really love that kind of thing. And afterwards Actually, there's one moment when I was mapping all of this out towards the end where I was really stuck because I knew that I wanted a couple of things to be happening simultaneously. They needed to happen one after another for the book to really flow very beautifully and for it to make so much sense as to how a character reacts the way that they do. But if I was doing that, then it would have been like this weird gap in another area. of the book. So I had to be very, I had to really take a step back and explore all the options around how we can make it work. So that was a lot of fun. That was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed that. So that was step three, mapping out those five chapters. Step four is where I transferred all the information on my two big poster papers with Dakota sticky notes into a Google doc so transferred over there and also flesh it out. Alright, so I transferred it onto a Google doc to do a full chapter outline. And I added more smaller sort of transition scenes and subplots to it. So the core plot lines in this book have nothing to do with scarless two best friends and then Helen, but Emma and Helen are the main characters in previous books in this series, so books 123 Follow Emma as the main character books four to six of the polyamorous question series, follow Helen has main character, and then book 79, which is what we're on right now. Those are the ones to follow Scarlet. And because none of the plotlines incorporate ama or Helen then I haven't included Mr. Helen in any of his poster paperwork, but I needed to include them in one there are very important characters. So when I was mapping out to the Google doc chapter outline, I was adding in how am and Helen fit into the story and where they are acting as supporting characters and also figuring out some things about what is going on in their lives because there's still really important just because they're not being in character for this novel, doesn't mean we still don't want to know about them and how they're doing since the previous books they ran. So I mapped out my google doc chapter outline, so that each chapter had a bullet point for each of the three outlines. And then there was more more details in you know, subsequent bullet points for each of those bonds. And then I also added several additional bullet points for those additional sort of subplots that are happening as a result with my chapter 11 I have on my google doc, there's anywhere from about a half a dozen to a dozen bullet points mapped out for every single chapter. So I've got a decent amount of things. I really know a lot about what's happening in each of the chapters. And the last thing that I did was to create a short list of other possible scenes to add to the story. So these were ideas that I have for different scenes that don't really fit into anything that I currently have, but their general ideas and kind of like some callbacks on that kind of thing to the previous books in the series. So as I'm working on this magazine on this manuscript, as I'm writing it, and like I'm one of those ideas, it's been really beautifully, and then I can add it in, or maybe they don't fit at all in this book, and that's okay too. So the important thing is like just one of those general ideas written down somewhere, so that I can refer back to them throughout the writing the writing process. And again, I talked, I talked in the previous episode, Episode 147. I talked about, you know why I'm kind of doing all this work going back to the drawing board with book eight because I had been working on it previously, and I did have a full Google doc chapter outline for it, but it wasn't as in depth, and it was kind of like, a little bit more haphazard. There's kind of like random scenes thrown in where I was like, I think that this will be good to include here. But as I was working on the book, I realized oh, this doesn't actually fit in. So the current chapter outline that I created, everything makes sense as to why it is in there. It is all very seamless, and then anything that I'm like this could be a cool idea but doesn't quite fit. That is where it goes into that extra list. On the side of the chapter outline for possible scenes, different ideas that could be included. So there you have it. That is an overview of the logistics for how I mapped out parallel outlines for my book and incorporated the beans into it. If you have any additional questions about this topic, if you want clarity on anything and wanting to go a little bit deeper with any of it, then absolutely let me know you can submit your topic ideas or your questions at Sagan That my friend is a wrap for today's episode of indie author weekly access the show notes for this episode, including all links to additional resources at Sagan and share your thoughts about this episode on Twitter or Instagram. My handle is at Sagan nibs please take two minutes to rate and review the other weekly on Apple podcasts. Or if you're watching this episode on YouTube, please subscribe to my channel and give this video the thumbs up. Thank you so much for tuning in and I will see you next week for another episode of indie author weekly