Book signing and brand new plotting board

So today is the day of the big Under the Rose Booksigning. Luckily, I do not have time to be growing too nervous, since I will be working incredibly hard on the next book up until the time we hop in the car and head out to said booksigning. And since I know that at least one person got to my blog by Googling my name and “book signing” today, I hope that I will have at least one companion not named Sailor Boy. I do, however, have a tendency to get nervous about these things, in a very middle-school “I’m throwing a party, what if no one comes?” kind of way. (Sailor Boy’s attitude is “More candy for me!” Oh, yes, there’s candy. Did I mention the candy?) I’m also a bit nervous because my head is so much into ROS(B) right now that I’m afraid of giving everything away if someone asks me a question about UTR. As we established tonight during board games with my best friend and her husband, I have no poker face. None at all.

I haven’t actually done very many official booksignings. I did one last year on the release date of my first book, and all my friends came, so that was fun. I did one at RWA, and one at my house, and one at a bookstore in my hometown after a TARA meeting. All of those had pretty captive audiences. Other than that, I’ve been the queen of the drive-by booksigning.

In other news, I spent quite a long time on Monday trying to make a plotting board for ROS(B) to help me with the revisions. It was difficult for two reasons: 1) my method of plotting-board usage has changed somewhat wince the last time I made one for one of my books, and I hadn’t really realized how much that would effect me, and 2) the Office Depot near my house had a pretty crappy selection of Post-It notes, which lead to me being forced to use colors that I probably shouldn’t have. In the past, I’ve used a green that is more like the color of Secret Society Girl‘s cover, but this green I’ve been using now is pretty close to the yellow color, so it makes the board look out of whack. Anyway, here it is, purposefully blurry to avoid spoilers:

It’s tough to tell, but some of those are green and some of those are yellow. Savvy readers will note how very different this board is to the one I did for Under the Rose, last year:

And not just because of the colors. (Curse you, Office Depot, why must you thwart my organizational system?) But the big difference comes from how I have started to arrange my plotting boards, and how doing workshops actually helped me with this.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fan of Four-Act Structure. (I hear it’s just three act structure with the middle act split in two, and I can’t speak to that, because what I do know is that I’ve never once been able to wrap my head around three act structure, but four act structure seems as natural as breathing to me. However, whatever works for you.) And when I was working on a visual aid for a workshop I did on subplots back in May for TARA, I made up a plotting board for Pride & Prejudice, to show how the subplots weaved through each other and crescendoed during each of the mini act-climaxes of that book. To help illustrate that point, I put each act of the book on a different line of the board.

What I didn’t realize is that I could do the exact same thing when boarding my own books to help me out with structure. I was making the plot board and looking at it in despair, thinking that the storyline was really sloppy and meandering, and then I thought, why don’t I split it up into acts? And then when I did, I realized that I’d actually color coded things wrong, and that what I thought were two subplots were actually one.

It’s also much more clear what my focus is going to need to be in the revision stage of the manuscript.* Obviously, I need to do some tightening in the third act. I think part of the issue I’ll be dealing with is that I’m not quite sure which climax of the second act is the “real” climax. There are two subplots that climax (or mini-climax) there and they don’t happen at exactly the same time. I chose the “act break” as the first subplot to climax.

And now that I think of it, there needs to be some orange in that second square in the bottom row. That’s my other issue, I have “one more” plot thread going on in this book than I did in UTR. Though that’s not really accurate. I’m just counting something that I know I have to go in and weave more as its own plot thread, to help me out with revisions. I may have to redesign this a little, come to think of it, since we’re looking at a very different type of plot progression in ROS(B) than we are in UTR. I think this is, in a strange way, a more introspective novel, despite the fact that it’s far more overtly suspenseful than any in the series to date.

Oops, should that have been spoiler-whited out? 😉

* Note: Acts do NOT need to be the same length. In modern fiction, the fourth act should actually be quite short. Climax and resolution only.

Posted in party girl, plot board, ROSB, UTR, writing advice

18 Responses to Book signing and brand new plotting board

  1. Gina Black says:

    I’m a four-act writer too.

    I plot it out (in acts) in Scrivener, where I write it, too. Aren’t you a Mac person? It’s a wonderful program.

    I might try a plotting board too, one of these days.

  2. Bill Clark says:

    Happy Booksigning!

    (Hope your weather is better than here in rainy, cold Connecticut.)

    P.S. I bought a PowerBall ticket the other to try to win $240M and found myself staring at a stack of one of my books sitting next to the lottery machine. So I grabbed a pen and started signing them, much to the delight of the Pakistani clerks. They felt genuinely honored to meet a real author.

    And so it will be for you, I’m sure. Enjoy!

  3. Trish Ryan says:

    Have fun at your signing! Maybe you should bring the UTR plotting board to the signing? It’s big and colorful – what a conversation piece!

  4. Larissa Ione says:

    Have fun at the signing…may your hand cramp up from the amount of signatures you write! 😉

  5. Diana Peterfreund says:

    Alas, Trish, the UTR plotting board is LONG GONE. I just take the post it notes off and use the board again and again.

    And I doubt I would bring such a spoiler-fest to my booksigning, anyway…

  6. Carrie says:

    Have fun tonight!

    I tried to make a plotting board, but couldn’t decide how to do it — what to use the stickies for. so I gave up. I’ve always wanted one, though…

  7. Diana Peterfreund says:

    Gina, I think we’ve talked about Scrivener before. I believe I signed up for the free trial, downloaded the software, then promptly forgot about ever using it. Oops.

    How cool is that, Bill! What a great story. And how did Powerball work out for you? (Yes, it’s rainy here, too.)

    Thanks, Larissa!

  8. Diana Peterfreund says:

    Carrie, just a thought, but you could, maybe, make one color the dog. Then at least you’d know where you left him out!

    ::ducks and runs::

  9. Bill Clark says:

    PowerBall drawing is tomorrow night…jackpot up to $245M…keep your fingers crossed!

    *Bill plans to use the proceeds to start a foundation for starving (well, let’s say hungry, or maybe just deserving) musicians and artists and writers*

    Oh, when you have a minute, Diana, can you comment on the 1st/3rd person POV issue that Patrick and I were chewing on yesterday? I’m sure there’s a technical term for this, but I’m not certain that Patrick’s “lunatic” is the right one. 😉

  10. Patrick says:

    It’s still FP, even though the narrator is referring to himself as TP.

  11. Diana Peterfreund says:

    That doesn’t make sense to me, Patrick. If the narrator is referring to himself in TP, then it’s TP. That’s all any POV is — the way the characters refer to themselves. I can talk about myself in the third person, and I can talk about other people in the first person. Amy isn’t ME, even though I speak about her in third person.

  12. Bill Clark says:

    I think I need to see a shrink…

  13. Rachel Vincent says:

    Somehow I’ve missed your discussion on dividing the plot into four acts. But I’m fascinated. Do you think that would work for…say…the fourth book in a series, if the previous three were not divided into acts? At least consciously?

    The longer I do this, the clearer it becomes just how little I actually know. 😉

    Oh, and have a great signing.

  14. Bill Clark says:

    After posting the shrink comment, I realized what I really need to see is a good rhetorician, if there are any left.

    I also went back to yesterday’s blog thread – thanks for your comment! To which I had to comment further, since my scribal personality is anything but unbiased, calling ’em as I see ’em.

    FPTP! 🙂

  15. Carrie says:

    Rachel – I LOVE Diana’s post on the 4 act structure and continually beg her for more. I have that sucker bookmarked and re-read it all the time.

    Diana – I put that dog in so many places that people are going to be sick and tired of him 🙂

    And didn’t get my email? Full went out yesterday morning!

  16. Gina Black says:


    He finalized Scriviner and I paid for it (as did ERF). We both use it now. You should try it!

  17. Valerie Everhart says:

    I love your plotting board…and it makes sense. I’ve always wanted to use off to my local staples (the only office supply in town) and hope I have better luck than you did. But I could just tell the green from the yellow, LOL.

    and I think I like the idea of 4-act structure..will see how that works as well. Thanks for the tips!

  18. Rhea says:

    Do you still have the plot board for Pride & Prejudice on your site? The above link goes to the old site which redirects to the main page of the new site. I tried searching for it too. I’d love to see it. P&P is one of our favorite books. Thanks!