Planning the scene – internal flowcharts

Everyone loves flowcharts, especially when we need to make personal decisions (what kind of car should I buy? Pizza or burgers tonight? What’s the next sci-fi/fantasy book I should read? Well, I found you can take that love of flowcharts and apply it to preparing a scene.

Flowcharts are great because they ask you questions along the way, which is exactly how we writers plan out scenes. What if he did this? What if she said that? What if the dog was a snake? These ‘what if’ scenarios can be as confusing to keep track of as they are limitless, but all of this confusion can be tamed (along with our inner perfectionist) through the magic of flowcharts and a special writing software from Literature & Latte called Scapple.

I was very skeptical of Scapple as a writing tool at the beginning. Mind mapping is fun and all, but how useful am I really going to find it? Turns out, quite a lot. Here is a portion of one of my many Scapple projects that focuses on a chapter I was struggling with storyboarding:

trials

As you can tell, I had a series of paths my hero could potentially take. Rather than write out 3 different scenes and see which one flowed best, I plotted out this scene using a series of stop-gate questions (highlighted in yellow).  In this fashion, I was able to flush out the scenarios from a high-level overview, combine that with what I know of the characters, and form the most natural path of scene progression.

Perhaps this method removes some of the discovery writing that could happen along the way, but I find that I still have plenty of discovery. This method gives me more of a map, a basic plan on where to go; whether or not I choose to follow the map is up to me and my characters.

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