Flying Logic and Exploding Cats

When writing a novel, that’s pretty much entirely what life turns into: “House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.” — Neil Gaiman

Wandering the Web today I came across a writer who had just discovered Flying Logic. With permission, here is an excerpt from the LiveJournal of R. Scott Shanks, Jr.:

“I went to the Romance Writer’s Workshop, and became learned in the ways of storyboards. Fiddling with the storyboard let me know what was wrong with my novel. Good.

Industriously making post-its and moving them around did not fix the problems, though. I concluded two things; the storyboard only permitted me access to the whole novel at night, at home, when I was pooped, and that I needed to murder a huge number of my darlings — but couldn’t tell which ones had to go.

Shannon suggested last week that I tell her the story, which I did in brief, maybe a dozen sentences. “Which parts have to be there for the story you want?” First and last plot points.

Which meant all the others had targets on their heads. Way to go, Shannon.

That was a strangely liberating outlook. I changed from “something has to go” to “it will be interesting to see if anything stays.” I looked at the storyboard with loathing, and switched to tinytinytiny post-its and a notebook — portable storyboard.

I was still not moving with anything approaching speed. It’s easy to move the story elements around this way, but still takes attention. Changing the writing on the notes takes time. And the sticky wears out.

Then, Lisa, on whom be praise, suggested I look into Consistency. It won’t do much for me, I think, but that company also produces Flying Logic.

My world shook.

Yesterday I had a beginning and an end, and some very nice GMC notes. I put them into entities in Flying Logic and started making lines … which demonstrated when I had multiple scenes in the same scene; corrected that … which showed holes; corrected that … which revealed why my major plot points weren’t working; figured out what they had to be … which showed new scenes that had to be there … and where the tension had to build … and then discovered that I could customize the boxes in the program, changed them to match my post-it notes so I could see where I had too much of one element clustered ….

I spent three hours of a train ride yesterday steadily creating a plot that works. I did not have a cat exploding kind of day. I had something better. I had a “knew my work and did it well” kind of day. It felt terrific.”