Take that blurb of yours and see what points in it already fit the plot points we need to cover in this journey. This is also where your character sheets earn their keep. I use my Plotter worksheet, but you can even use the traditional outline format or even index cards.
My plotter is simple to make and use. It’s fairly simple; make three columns on a sheet of paper. The first column is for chapter numbers, and what I call my reminder statements ala the plot points mentioned above. In the second column, I write in a sentence, a paragraph, or even a list of things that must be touched upon in this section including the possible outcomes. The third column is for when I’ve written that chapter—I put in the outcome and notes on items used that must be foreshadowed elsewhere and any other comments I need for later chapters. Sometimes I create a fourth column to manage where I might need to go back and layer further information in regarding the senses and for continuity purposes.
Notice that I spoke about possible outcomes in regards to the plot points. Possible outcomes—interesting phrase, isn’t it? What does this mean? Well, in a RPG, you’ll discover that a module done by a DM doesn’t have step by step things covered. Instead it’s loosely plotted with lead paragraphs leading to these points. How they turn out depends on where and what happens next in the story as well as choices made by the player characters. Free will and the roll of the dice determines who lives and who is hurt. The player characters have the right to choose how they face the events before them and not feel that they’re being pushed into a premade story that has no give in it.
How does this relate to you? Instead of following a detailed outline that tells you how the characters got from point A to point B, you have a guide telling you that they meet here, and by the time they get to this other place, they have to face something and perhaps fail. How they journey to that point is up to you, your muse and the characters. When you get stuck, you can read over the plotter and use the turning points and the character sheets to help provide insight into what will move the plot forward and continue the journey.
See, in a RPG module, you’re given blurbs before each area you enter that relates to the essence of your journey and hints of what you might face. The plotter gives you the same thing- allowing you to way to prep the things you know the characters must deal with while at the same time, allowing for spontaneity and moments of inspiration to take the story further.
How much do you put in each point? That depends on you and what you feel you need to remember in regards to the plot itself. I normally jot down what is to be faced, who it’s aimed for, if they should succeed or fail, what they learn from it, what they failed to see, and what I need to foreshadow for later in the story. Sometimes it might be just a few sentences and some abbreviations like- Conflict- Taja. GMC—Internal #2. She is seduced and is distracted as an unknown person tries to attack her and Adras. Adras faces who and what Taja is as a Were. Note- Frelin is the attacker and is dealt with, though it doesn’t stop him. But it does give Taja a pause because she has to wonder if her people are truly at risk or if it’s just her personally.
Once I’ve completed my plotter, I go back and colour code my points. I learned this technique from Cherry Adair in one of her RT workshops. It’s helped me to make sure that I don’t overdo too much of one thing and not enough of another. Each goal, motivation, and conflict has a colour. The romance in the story has another colour. If there’s a mystery element to the story, everything relating to that mystery has that colour. The physical action has a colour, just as the emotional growth does. I go through and make coloured dots in the chapter column, allowing me to see what points are in that section. Then, once I’ve written that chapter, I go back, double-checking that I’ve covered those points and adding others if they’ve been used.
What does this do? It allows me to keep track of plot points and to keep it balanced so that the story flows easily. By doing that, you can see where you might need to add some flashbacks to cover why the character reacted to something they experienced in a scene, but you hadn’t explained why. It also shows you where you’ve foreshadowed certain things and how the subplots were resolved. If you have too much of one colour and not enough of the others, then you can go back and add the other colours in there, thus deepening the story.