One of my worst habits is taking notes on graph paper (I like graph paper) and then losing the paper. Or making so many changes that the whole thing becomes meaningless. And as the words mount up, so does the paper. Then back in the computer I’m making sticky notes to myself, and long pages of notes that are just words that I never look at again.
This is not efficient. Curio is efficient.
(For the record, I am not affiliated with Zengobi in any way, I just love Curio.)
So here’s what I do.
I open a file in Curio called “Nita’s Plot” or “Nita’s Curio” or whatever.
I hit that plus sign at the top to add a new board choosing from all kinds of backgrounds (I tend to stick with plain white or a grid). I can do multiple copies of a board–say I want to do a map of an act first from one PoV and then rewrite it for others–and I can drag and drop them to stack them so they’re organized (click on the little triangle to the left of the board name to show all the boards underneath it). I can drop in images or videos (I never use videos, but Curio supports them), use any font on my computer, access any color I want for bubbles and type, make images transparent so I can overlay them . . . basically do anything except edit images (for that I have Acorn). And if I change my mind about where a scene goes or how I want to code it, I just drag and drop to get what I want.
The process is pretty simple:
• I start with one box for each scene, color-coded for the PoV characters–yellow for Nita, blue for Nick–so I can see at a glance if I have my PoVs fairly evenly distributed and if most of them belong to Nita, my protagonist.
• The boxes for Nita’s solo scenes are on the left, Nick’s solo scenes on the right, the ones they share are down the middle so I can make sure I’m not keeping them apart too much.
• The notes in each box are for protagonist vs.antagonist and who wins because if I can’t fill that in, I have no conflict.
• The boxes behind the character boxes are color coded for setting, yellow for the diner, green for the nature reserve, aqua for Hel Bar, and so on.
• The symbols in the boxes and their relative sizes show the arcs of some of the plot lines: stars for Nita coming to accept the supernatural, hearts for the romance plot (still very small because this is the first act), spirals for reversals.
The idea is that I can look at this graphic and see the shape of the first act, complete with symbols that show the escalation of the different plot points.
I also do all my digital collages in Curio, but we’ve already talked about that. Basically, it’s second only to Word in importance in writing my novels.
One caveat: I only do this when the majority of the scenes have been written in rough draft form; in this case I have 22 scenes written out of the 27 in Act One. Otherwise, the outline starts driving the story which is very bad. But once I have a rough draft, this kind of map is hugely helpful.
Of course you can do the same thing in pen and ink. I recommend doing that in a sketchbook. SO much easier to find than pieces of paper, plus sketchbook paper is usually sturdier and will allow you to tape extra pages and pictures in, like these pages for Liz:
You can see why I prefer Curio.
And now back to actually writing the book . . .