If you have been following along on our journey to dig up the central conflicts and theme in your work-in-progress, now is the moment that we bring it all together.
I have to use a enumerated list…that is how exciting it is!
1. Gather up your three charts and a blank sheet of paper. If you missed making the charts, you can find the instructions for the character chart here. And instruction for plot and world charts here.
2. On the blank sheet of paper make three columns – Conflict, color, and character. Each column represents a key element of your story – the conflict the main character has with others, within herself/himself, and with society, the color that the setting provides, and the motivations of your main character. In the best stories, these elements connect, overlap, and interact. Hopefully this chart will help you see where that happens.
2. Go through the three charts you made and circle anything that has to do with character – their traits, their motivations, their past.
3. Underline anything that will cause conflict in your story – a new life, new goals, betrayals, limits, desires that are out of reach. Items circled in the last step might be underlined also. This is where you start to see how ideas are layered.
4. Highlight anything that reveals the color of your story. I think of this as the backdrop to the story – setting, society, culture, and emotion. Again, some items maybe be circled, highlighted, and underlined.
5. Take a moment and look over your charts. I like to look at the items that are underlined, circled, and highlighted. In the charts I did for The Fire Horse Girl the key elements cross all three categories: out of sync with society, strength, suffocating, vulnerable, promise of American dream, male-dominated society, heartbreak. It really brings those driving forces to the surface.
When I did the charts for the second book, the following showed up in all three categories – risk, competition, playing games, controlling perceptions, politics, status, passion, compassion.
6. I also make a fourth chart on the sheet of paper where you wrote the three columns. It lets me see what elements show up repeatedly, and which ones threads show up in one category, but have ties to the other two.
I hope that helps!