Envelopes for Acts

Searching for Plot Events

I’m evaluating the outline for my WIP novel and realize that I need more events. It takes place at one big event that spans 98 hours. Within that time period, though, I need some exciting things happening. I’ve sorta mapped out the emotional changes (Wow, what a change for me!), but now it’s the events themselves that matter.

In Roz Morris’ Nail Your Novel book, (a great book to use when writing your first draft!) she suggests that you use a box and just throw in ideas. The ideas can come from brainstorming or from research about a topic. Don’t worry about where the bit of action goes in the story, just write it on a card and throw it into the mix.
When the box is full, or when you’ve done enough research, then you can sort through ideas and evaluate if they will fit into your novel. You’ll want to toss some of them as unsuitable for your story. The rest, though, you can start to sort and put into a reasonable order.

Because my novel has a tight time line, I’ve done a modification. As shown in the picture here, I’ve created three envelopes. As I’m doing research and brainstorming, I’m slotting events loosely into Act 1, Act 2 or Act 3 of my novel. So, use one big envelope or box or several envelopes based on whatever division works for your novel. For example, you might want to use one envelope for each subplot, or perhaps for each major setting of your novel.

In any event, I’m still trying out voices and still plotting. What stage is your WIP at?

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