Visualizing your plot in full color

I’ve started using a visual way to develop my screenplay, which is working out rather well. I’ve been working on a rather intriticate story that covers multiple timelines (past and present) that converge midway through the story.  It was driving me bonkers trying to remember what happened ” before” something else in the narrative.

Scenes and Timeline

Scenes and Timeline

I went to Lowe’s and bought a section of white board paneling, that is basically a section from a dry ease board.  I mounted it on my wall and divided it up by Acts.  In the picture, you can see Act I on the top. Act II covers the end of the top section, the middle, and part of the bottom.  Act III picks up the end of the third row.  The space on the bottom I left for notes and scratch work.

I then picked up a bunch of colored post-its and began noting down my major scenes.  The blue are the Past timeline, and the Pink are the current timeline. Orange indicates a major plot point that has to be revealed at some point along the way. The lone white post-it in the upper left is a plot issue I have to come back and work out.  I’m now able to see my pacing, juggle scenes easily, and use the colors to really highlight any problems. (Yes, that’s still a work in progress)

In a more traditional narrative, I use one color for Theme scenes, another for Character scenes, and a third for Plot scenes.  Under the idea that every scene should advance at least one of those three aspects of the story, I can see if I am spending too much time “talking”, or maybe not enough time since something really dynamic was happening on screen.

It’s a variation on using index cards to juggle scenes, but I prefer this for the color and the ability to see the whole picture at once.  This is in my writing area, so I can look up at any time from my writing and see what’s next, or get up and move things around.  I’m still refining the technique, but so far it is working out really well.

If you have any ideas what I could use to improve it, or if you use a technique similar to this for your own plot planning, I’d love to hear it!

About Jeff Moriarty

A dabbler in many arts, from Ignite Phoenix to Improv, and from Information Security to Screenwriting. Jeff loves creating new things, and tries his hand at many forms of writing from screenplays to prose. He pontificates on his personal blog, and helps authors get their works online.

Comments

  1. Wolf In The Fold says:

    The more I look at that the more I like it. I have a long rewrite in my future where story pacing is going to be a big issue. I think being able to physically move it around would be a huge help.