Friday, May 13, 2011

Subplots Mapping: the Chronicles of Surfer Dude...

My next step usually is to start mapping out the various plot strands by character.  Rather than try to explain it, I will return to Surfer Dude and show you.

Surfer Dude
Recover the Artifact before the evil team (MAIN PLOT)
Surfer Dude and Surfer Dad are attacked in their Malibu retreat.  Dad is kidnapped, but in his last words to Dude, he reveals that the map finding the both the Artifact and the key that makes the Artifact accessible is hidden on the back of an old nautical map in Dude’s bedroom.  Dude forces Mentor to bring him along.
Dude leads the team to Cornwall, and there they recover the key to the Artifact.  The bad guys get there too, because they interrogate Surfer Dad.

Relationship with Surfer Dad

Relationship with Surfer Mom

Relationship with Surfer Chick

Relationship with Big Bad Guy

Relationship with Good Guy Team Mentor (attitude towards authority growth subplot)
In Act I, Mentor is the head of the team coming to recruit Surfer Dad.  He is involved in the Act I action, so we see that he is totally awesome.  Then Surfer Dude bucks his authority and insists on coming along with the team, and he and Surfer Dude begin a phase of cool hostility.
Mentor and Surfer Dude struggle for control. 

Earning the team’s respect
At first, the good guy team shows Surfer Dude respect as the son of Surfer Dad.  Then, he holds them hostage and insists on coming along, which makes them view him negatively (in various ways: as spoiled, or selfish, or immature)

Surfer Dad
Relationship with Surfer Mom

Escape attempts

Surfer Mom
Plot to subvert evil team

Surfer Chick
Relationship with Big Bad Guy

Okay, some disclaimers.  If I were actually going to write this book, I'd want a table with more plot lines than this.  Maybe 20, I guess, though that's a creative decision and you could write the book with more or fewer.  Also, I haven't even tried to finish filling in the grid above -- I've just started filling it in, so that you can see how I do it.  Also, yes, the above story is silly.  I would never actually write it.  In fact, that's why I've used it for this example, so I wouldn't feel like I was actually giving any good ideas away.  Ha!

Notice that I've added at least one new character in working through this grid, with attendant subplot(s) -- the Mentor.  Understand that this, too, is an early step, and having created my full subplots table, I will not stick slavishly to it.  I'll use it to get started on the next step, which is my chapter outline, but once the chapter outline is going, that's the principal tool I'll use to follow and shape the story, and I will return to the subplots table only rarely, if ever.

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