Over the holidays I read Blake Snyder's, Saving the Cat. It was a bit of an eye opener as far as how to plot out a story. The part I liked the best was his use of the index cards. He breaks it down between three acts and each card indicates a scene. Within each scene there has to be a conflict and an emotional arc. Then the index cards get put up on a bulletin board. Ten cards for Act I; ten cards for part one of Act II which takes you to the midpoint; ten more for the second part of Act II; and then of course the final ten cards for Act III - 40 scenes in total. Granted, he is referring to screenplays in his book, but the method translates into any form of storytelling and has really helped me look at things differently.
Not only has it made me look at things differently, it also got the creative juices flowing again and the idea I originally toyed with of taking a leisurely year to just 'hone my craft' was tossed out the window and the need to really use this method and put a push on to revise previous manuscripts and write new ones quickly replaced it.
Right now I am back to revising the NaNoWriMo first draft of my young adult novel. I'm seeing holes already using this method. Not surprising given that it was a first draft and a NaNo book - which meant lots of writing through, around or over the holes.
My goals for 2010 are pretty ambitious. Revise three manuscripts, write the first draft of two more, agent hunt and get a publishing contract. I threw the last one in there as I was writing my goals realizing I had never actually put that one down before. Maybe having it there in writing will make a difference this year. Guess we'll find out.
Let the games begin.