I spent an awful lot of time plotting last night. It’s weird, because over the course of the weekend this novel idea has become less about religious cults and more about banking and economic warfare. I figured that we’ve spent enough time in fantasy dealing with dormant gods and hidden prophecy and it would be good to take it in a different direction. Banking is incredibly relevant right now, and that nearly put me off (because what is relevant today is dated tomorrow) but I figure the plot is a bit timeless and I’m going to work hard to stop it becoming too allegorical.
The idea (which I won’t spoil here) came from something I had written down as a possible blog post, but was a little difficult to fully realise as a story so I spent some time in Excel working out how it all worked and fleshing it out. If you like, this was the denouement of “what is actually happening”, and from this I will spin out story strands on which the novel will hang.
I’m also using Excel to plot the story of the novel. Along the top I write my characters and down the side the chapters. I then write what each of them is doing into the relevant cell. From this I can get a very clear idea from reading down the columns whether each character has a proper arc or whether they need some further work. It also means, reading each chapter row, I know what I have to include.
I’ve used this method before and found it very effective (I think I stole the idea for the plot grid from JK Rowling, though she did hers on paper). It’s also very handy when you are interweaving timelines. A novel spends more time being planned but generally is a much quicker write.
I still have some character work to do. The lead is still incredibly loose in my head. They need motivations for doing what they are doing, and I think once I get this, the character will form up behind it. Even as I type I’m getting some ideas on this so I suspect it won’t take too long.