I love plotting out a manuscript before I write the first draft. It gives me a direction to head towards, especially on the days when my brain is completely scattered and I’m running low on spare time. Sometimes when I’m working out a storyline, I’ll use post-it notes to get my scenes together. Each little post-it has a scene or a bundle of scenes to make full chapter that I’ll line up in what I believe is the right order.
Throughout this process, I discover when an event has happened too quickly (like two characters falling in and out of love within three chapters) or which areas of my story are still unknown to me (which is pretty obvious with a short row of blank post-its). I swap scenes around, find double-ups and I throw out ideas that still might find a way of sneaking into my story.
Once I’ve got most of the plot worked out, I’ll transfer the scenes from my post-its onto a spreadsheet and begin writing. I rarely have the whole storyline planned before I write because every story has a strange way of evolving with new ideas and twists I couldn’t have imagined before I started. To borrow a quote from Pirates of the Carribean, “They’re more like guidelines anyway”.
(Note: This is not my house, so don’t get any crazy ideas that I work in front of a fireplace everyday.)