I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Ah-hah Moment and Post-It Notes



By Jennie Atkins

I learned a trick at the MBT Deep Thinkers Retreat in Florida I thought I'd share.

You see, I’m a visual, hands-on learner. I can read a book or listen to someone talk about a subject, but it doesn't always sink in. (Which is why I’ve promised Suzie I’d be at the next ten Deep Thinkers retreats.)

As is usual with MBT Retreats, we watched a movie so we could apply the principles we’ve been learning. This time Susie gave each of us a mixture of colored sticky notes with different story parts on each one (such as inciting incident, black moment, and the kiss).

After the movie we placed each one of them on a big sheet of paper. It was a great effort in learning the structure, but it also helped me to see the whole picture, from end-to-end, top-to-bottom, and even the middle.

At home, I really studied the layout compared to all the concepts I learned. The use of different colored Post-it notes accentuated the various parts of the story structure. I could finally "see" the connections of how all the pieces parts of the story fit together. How the hero's story line paralleled the heroine's story. How the emotional journey and the plot fit together. How the romance line molded into the story line.

As you can see here, I put the main story items (i.e. Story question, hero and heroine greatest fear, happy moment, greatest dream, etc.) across the top with large Post-it notes.

For the hero’s story line I used dark blue, for the heroine’s I used pink. (No brainer there.) Then I chose different colors for the hero’s emotional journey (light blue) and the heroine’s emotional journey (chartreuse green – it looks yellow in the picture). I put little orange Post-it notes in to mark the different acts.

Now I can start filling in the blanks of my story and see how they can connect. Like, how can the fear of the hero clash with the greatest dream of the heroine? Or how do each of their moments of despiration bring them closer, or tear them apart?

Its not rocket science, but for me it really brought my whole story together. I hope it helps you too!

Do you have any questions? Comments?

27 comments:

  1. Jennie,
    You know I believe in the Post-it note system too. The doors to my office are covered with Post-its--multicolored, regular and large size. It's a tremendous method to map out your story.
    Thanks for sharing this.

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  2. This may be what I need!!!! I am starting to plot out a story and I bought the Book Buddy and printed it out and had it bound, but I am struggling to see the big picture. I missed the talk a few weeks about about the Book Buddy and I haven't been able to find it in the Team Locker room.

    THIS...this I can wrap my brain around. I love it!

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  3. Like Sherrinda, I'm going to have to buy some post it notes and try this.
    Thanks for sharing today!
    Jackie

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  4. This is brilliant, Jennie! I'm a visual person, so that's a perfect system for me. I'm just starting to plot my next book, so I'm going to be studying your pictures... :)

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  5. This was an "Aha!" moment at Deep Thinkers for me too. Worth the price of the retreat!

    Such a helpful post for all who couldn't attend DT.

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  6. I use something similar type of plotting board, but I like how you broke yours down with the H/H journey. The only thing I'd add is chapter numbers. For me, I need to know how the chapters break down for the acts. Wonderful post, Jennie. Thanks so much for sharing! I really wish I could have been there.

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  7. Jennie,
    I'm a visual person too! I see a multi-colored post-it note wall in my near future!

    Blessings!

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  8. The first thing I bought when I got home from DT was colored index cards. I don't trust Post-It's not to fall off or become kitty toys!

    Wendy

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  9. Loved this, Jennie, and it brought back good memories of DT. :) I've colored coded my Book Buddy as I've filled it out, and am debating about the post-it method. I hope to see/hear about your story as you write it.Thanks for sharing this way of plotting out a story!

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  10. Beth,
    Yes I remember you saying you did something similar. I really must say it help me put all the pieces parts together!

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  11. Sherrinda,
    I love the book buddy, but I could only see what is on the one page making me feel very claustrophobic in my writing. This also helped clarify how the moving parts worked together.

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  12. Jackie - you are welcome! I hope it helps!

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  13. Melissa - I'll have more next month to show, too!

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  14. Lisa,
    I will actually be doing another post on this next month discussing tips and tricks, so your suggestion will be right up there with the others!

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  15. Alena,
    Yes, it definitely brightened up my office with shades of pink, blue, green, and yellow!

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  16. Wendy,
    Go to Staples - they have the Post-its that are "extra sticky"!

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  17. Jennie,

    My "Day Job" is a painting horse portraits, so the image full of colors caught my eye immediately.

    But I'm also a writer and I like to have all my ducks in a row before I begin the story.

    I have a difficult time seeing The Big Picture and that problem has persisted through all types of design methods.

    I've never tried this one, though, and the thought of collecting the appropriate colors of Post-It notes and mapping out my story this way is a delightful thought!

    I may need to take down some paintings to make it work, though....

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  18. Wow, I'll be interest in hearing more about how to use the post it notes! I've used a massive chart (usually ends up about 30 pages long) to make sure all my elements are covered. But the post it notes let you see at a glance if there are holes. Great idea!

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  19. Carrie,
    I keep mine on a foam board that I can hide behind the door! That way I don't have to take any pictures down!

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  20. Teri,
    Thats exactly why I do it! I can see the flow of the story with one glance. It really works!

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  21. Jennie, thank you for the pictures! Mind didn't turn out as well as yours...but then, you did another one when you got home and used bigger cards. Duh! Still thank you. I start back on my 2nd book next week and the first thing I'm going to do is make a colorful board!

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  22. This is so neat, Jennie. Besides wishing to see writing friends at DT, this is the part I'm most sorry I missed--hope that gets filled in in my near future.

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  23. Pat,
    I bought a large foam board and it gives me a lot of room to post all size notes.

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  24. Dee,
    We missed you at DT. It was quiet fun and I learned so much!

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  25. Dee,
    We missed you at DT. It was quiet fun and I learned so much!

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  26. I think I need some personal time with you on this one. I am also visual and would like to learn how to implement this to its greatest advantage.

    This was truly a great post! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful insight with all of us :)

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