Sunday, June 1, 2008

Keeping track of plot threads

Yes, I know, we already have an outline to keep us on track. But what about the golden key without a matching lock that you introduce in chapter one? Or the shadowy figure that observes an indiscretion, but we do not see a face in chapter four?

As I write, I find many such threads presenting themselves. The trick is to resolve all unanswered questions by the end of your book. And since it is easy to loose track, I recommend having a sheet, or section of a notebook, dedicated tracking these threads.

It can be simple. Something like "Chapter 1 John finds golden key." Then later when I write the section where John finds the matching lock, I will write next to the original note "RESOLVED: Chapter 12 found trunk and unlocked it"

This process will probably bear repeating after several rewrites of your novel. If you catch the unresolved threads, you are saving time on copy editing. It also helps you to think in terms of key plot elements, both big and small. During your second draft edit, you may see a brilliant change in plot or event threads just by reviewing your "Thread Summary" sheet.

This may seem elementary to you, but to me, a beginning writer, it is very helpful. Hope it helps some of you as well. Happy writing.

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