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  • Writer's pictureNina Lane

Whiteboard Envy

Alessandra Torre's post on Where I Write (be sure to check it out in the Authors section!) gave me both chair and whiteboard envy, two deadly sins I'd never experienced before. I know a lot of authors use whiteboards to plot out their stories, though I've never tried it. I've tried post-it plotting numerous times, but I was always thwarted by the fact that the post-its kept falling off my wall. Plus, I always got hung up on using the right colors, writing neatly, and getting frustrated when I ran out of room on the little squares. Suffice it to say, I spent more time fussing with getting it all "exactly right" than I did thinking about my plot.

However, I am a huge fan of dry-erase boards. I love that it takes no time at all to fix a mistake, and obviously you don't have to futz around getting your post-its lined up symmetrically -- unless, of course, you're using post-its ON your whiteboard.

Whatever your method, the power of the whiteboard is hard to deny. You can use it to chart out plot points, keep track of characters, connect different elements of your story arc, and brainstorm new ideas. Your whiteboard can be a bright, messy tangle of words and colors, a structured chart, or a carefully developed spiderweb of thoughts.

On Go Into the Story, Scott Myers discusses the "visual paradigm" creates on his whiteboard for character

interrelationships, as well as the pattern he draws to structure the four plot points that serve as the backbone of his story.

On Squid Inky, Rod Dunne outlines his detailed method of whiteboarding with post-its, with sections dedicated to character arcs, "fuzzy concepts," themes, plots, and subplots. Not only does his photograph the board every day to document changes, he transcribes it onto a laptop after he's satisfied with the structure.

Over at Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig calls a whiteboard "a great thinking space" and details a plethora of other techniques ranging from intensely meticulous plotting to throwing out the map and figuring it all out as you go along. Judith Graves discusses her method (along with a picture of where she writes!), which includes both a whiteboard and scraps of paper.

Do you use a whiteboard to plot your books? What other plotting and planning methods work best for you? Let us know in the comments!


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