Planning With Post It Notes

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been mapping out the verse novel I keep referring to. I started it last year with no real plan and began writing. 13.5K words later it petered to a halt as the year ended and I endeavoured to pick it up at the beginning of this year.

Best laid plans often involve doughnuts but returning to this project stalled for a number of reasons.

However…!

Staring at a document is not always the best way to find the holes and work out what needs to be fixed. When it comes to learning styles I am not much of a visual person, preferring verbal/auditory and writing (no surprises there). 

After a lot of thinking and composting trying to work out how this would all hold together, I thought about using Post It Notes to visually map the story I was telling.

Therefore, I printed it out, bought a wad of Post It Notes and started scribing, the title of each poem on individual notes. I needed to see the overall arching narrative, find out where the gaps were and think through what ending it was working towards.

Phase One – Beginning Mapping

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The yellow Post It Notes is the MC arranged as the document appears on my computer. The pink is the MC’s own poetry, her Fermata (musical pauses – there is a strong musical reference in this verse novel). The blue is the MC’s boyfriend and his contribution to the narrative, his Random Conversations.

It reads from left to right (using the yellow Post It notes).

Phase Two – Playing With the Pieces

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I began to rearrange the order of the poems and play around as to where the Fermata and Random Conversations would fit. Still reading from left to right but now adding in more of the narrative.

From here I went back to my notebook and started making notes about the plot and characters, scribbling out a brief synopsis to help work out the structure and development of the narrative.

Phase Three – I’m Thinking of Something Orange

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The benefit of doing it on the wall was to see where there were gaps in the narrative. I used orange notes to suggest scenes/ideas/concepts to help build the storyline.

Phase Four – The “Final” Version

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This mess makes sense to me. The story now has a structure and a flow (of sorts). I have now transferred the Post It Notes to my exercise book so I can begin the rewriting and editing.

I am going to take my print out and rearrange the pages as per the order shown above and reread to see if it holds together, even allowing for the gaps and silences yet to be written. 

I doubt this will be the final iteration in terms of plot and structure but doing this has given me a clearer idea of the form and direction of my verse novel.

Handy Hints

  • buy quality Post It notes as you don’t want them falling off
  • have a large handy piece of blank wall, or windows.
  • take a photo regularly in case they fall off so you can return them
  • colour code (character, plot, problems, themes)

I intend to use Post It Notes to help with the planning and mapping of a vignette collection I am working towards. Many, many uses.

Perhaps you’d like to join in Post It Note Poetry in February, 2016.

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8 responses to “Planning With Post It Notes

  1. Jessie Martinovic

    Just the layout of this on the wall looks like an art! It has also given me inspiration to try something like this, as length is something I am unaccustomed to but would like to get better at, goodluck with the story!

  2. I’ve read a couple of times that it’s advised to write the plot on the wall, but never really saw a good version of it; until now. Thanks a mill for sharing and I hope you don’t mind if I steal it.
    Have a great day! Cheers!

  3. Omg this is a wonderful idea and it looks like a work of art. I absolutely love this post. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. There are still marker pen notes on the cupboard door in my son’s room from years ago. How I wish he had thought of post-its…

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