Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SRS Smackdown Spotlight #3: Kelly Holmes

I can't tell you how much fun it has been to spotlight fellow smackdowners and get to know some peeps better! This community is amazing and has so much to share. Don't miss Holly's spotlight on Molly Blaisdell.

Today, I'm thrilled to spotlight Kelly Holmes aka YAnnabe (another blog name I just love!).

Kelly peaked my interest during week one's report when she mentioned that she had almost completed a plot board. So I bugged her to share her process with us. And she agreed! Yay. I also asked her tell us a little more about herself and her current project. Her is what Kelly had to say:
A little about me: I'm an unpublished wannabe YA writer. I've started 3 novels and finally finished one (thank you, NaNoWriMo!). As a mom to a 1-year-old, my biggest writing struggle right now is making the time to work on my novel when it seems like there's always something else that needs doing. But I recently explained to my husband that I might be more fun to be around if I were regularly feeding my soul what it needs, and he's on board. Unfortunately, that means on the days I work on my novel I won't be able to get away with being as surly as usual.

My current project: I finished the first draft of my current WIP last November during NaNoWriMo. I then heeded the advice from NaNo's founder to wait a month before reading the whole thing. Better, I waited 6 months. (Procrastination is a good thing, finally!)

After reading it, I learned 3 things:
1. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
2. It was still pretty bad.
3. I had no idea what to do next.

Then I came across writer Diana Peterfreund's blog, where she talks about how to...My tip: Make a plot board. This tool will be useful if:
* You feel like you have too many subplots or too few subplots
* You're not sure you've threaded a subplot all the way through your novel
* You want to get a handle on the overall structure of your novel to check for things like a sagging middle

Here are the basic steps of making a plot board, but swing over to Diana's blog for all the details about making one of your own:
1. Get a posterboard (or butcher paper) and several different colors of sticky notes.
2. Divide the posterboard into 3 sections - one for each act. (Or if you're like Diana, 4 sections for a 4-act structure.)
3. Make a list of your subplots and assign each one a separate sticky note color. (Example: You could assign your romantic subplot the color pink.)
4. Now, the fun part: For the first scene in your novel, figure out what happens for each subplot and make a corresponding sticky note. (Example: Grab a pink sticky note and write what happened to further the romantic subplot in the current scene, like "Jack kissed Jill, Jill told him to go throw himself off a hill.") You'll most likely have more than one sticky note per scene because you've furthered more than one subplot in your scenes, but you won't necessarily use every color for every scene. A couple other things you can do:* Number your scenes and put the number on the sticky notes.* Write any other information you want to track on the sticky notes, like setting.
5. Take all the sticky notes for the scene and put them on the posterboard in the appropriate act section. You can stack them on each other but stagger them so you'll be able to see all the different colors.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all your scenes have been sticky-noted, then stand back!* Pick a subplot and look for its color on your board. Do you see pink in scenes 1, 2, and 3, then not again til scene 42? Depending on the subplot, that could be a sign you need to pull that thread through a few more scenes so scene 42 doesn't seem to come out of nowhere.
* Maybe you'll see pink in every single one of your scenes. That could be a sign that you can give the reader a little break every now and then from that subplot, or that you have a few scenes you could combine to tighten up the story.
* Do you have a couple sets of stickies in the first act, a couple in the third act, and so many in the second act that you had to go buy a second posterboard? A sagging middle might be the culprit. You don't need the same number of scenes in each act, but a huge act section could be a sign of a problem.

Going through this process showed me that I have too many subplots, a couple of them completely disappeared in the middle of the story, and my second act's sticky notes could fill up an entire wall. Thanks to my plot board, I have a place to start on my revisions. And it only took me 3 hours to make.

Happy plot boarding!
Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Kelly!
You will NOT want to miss tomorrow's Wednesday Whip Tips. Holly will have the amazing Justina Chen Headley and I will introduce you to a new voice you are going to fall in love with, Jill Alexander!

1 comment:

Kelly H-Y said...

Fabulous interview and advice! Thanks!