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unused_bagels's avatar

How do you brainstorm your plot/script?

Asked by unused_bagels (1749points) June 21st, 2011
2 responses
“Great Question” (4points)

I’ve decided that I’m not going to make episodic issues of my comic book anymore, as the story has become too thick and involved to split up every 24 pages. I’m going to work on everything beyond issue 1 (which is now the prologue) as one single, unified graphic novel. I have a vague idea of my story arc planned out, and I used to plan out each comic script in terms of how many pages I’d devote to certain elements.
However, this doesn’t seem like something practical, now that I’m starting a script 24 pages in (issue 2 is now the first few pages). The comic was going to span about 20–30 issues, but now it’s going to be even longer due to lack of space constraints. How does anyone work on a script that long?
I mind[bubble]-mapped my character relationships, but bubble maps also seem impractical for linear plots with sub-plots branching off. Ideas? Suggestions? Concerns?

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Carly's avatar

I tend to write down a sentence for each major part of my plot. For instance, one of the plots I’ve used in a story required the two main characters to meet at a certain time in their lives. I had to figure out when the best time would be, so writing out the rest of the plot as a list helped me fit in their meeting each other.

The idea is to work with small bits of information which hold lots of meaning. That way you can look at the whole plot of the whole project on one piece of paper. In CW courses I’ve taken, we’ve done this with written works by other authors to understand how it can be done with almost any length of a project. We did it for novels which were hundreds of pages long (think Bleak House – Dickens), short stories, screenplays and even Anime series.

Once you write the main ideas on one piece of paper, keep it as a map/guide to look at as you plot the smaller, but richer details that make up your whole story. I usually pin up my main guide near my desk, and whenever I need to refer back to it, get back on track and not lose sight of the main story, it’s always there.

For each main part of the plot that I listed as one sentence, I take a single page of paper and write down all my connecting ideas that have to do with that specific part. If I have two of my main characters meet for the first time, I’ll write connecting thoughts about what happens in the scene before and the scene after, I write down important things that need to be said in the dialog between them, and anything else that spawns later in the plot from this particular moment.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

Index cards got me through the 300 page rough draft of my novel. After a good deal of brainstorming and scribbling in notebooks, I wrote down any scene ideas I could think of on index cards. Colored cards work well for sorting scenes by point of view character. Index cards let me shuffle around scenes, but they can always be tacked up, bound together, or numbered for a more permanent order. For a while, I had them tacked up with colored strings connecting various plot threads. It took 60–70 cards to plot my rough draft, but that was manageable because I used an index card box to sort them. That way, I could pull out a group (like the scenes leading up to the climax) and deal with just those.

But that was the first draft. That was easy, at least in comparison. For the 2nd draft, I’m condensing four years of story into two, adding a major plotline, and combining two important minor characters into a major character who affects the entire plot. Initially, I tried to make new index cards for the additional scenes I would need. It proved difficult to hold both the original story and the changes in my head at the same time. I ended up making a chart that divided the story into six columns, which I used to list plots, subplots, and general character changes. Then I was able to go through scene by scene, and write new index cards to track changes within a scene, as well as POV and necessary research.

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