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Plot Grid Help!

Ok, so I’m seeing a few other people around here having similar problems, but I’m truly at a loss as to using this darn plot feature! It’s confusing the ever loving heck out of me, why can’t it just be simple…
Anyways, I’m going to try and give a good description so that hopefully somebody can give me advice, so here goes;
I just want an easy way to plot my book chapter by chapter. I don’t need to set up all these fancy plot lines for subplots, I just want to plot my book!
When I tried to do it my way it screwed everything up!
I spent a while plotting it the way I thought it was supposed to be used, I’ll break down what I did.

  • Prologue (This was the title for the “book scene” and in the description I gave a overview of the prologue as a whole). Then, moving into the “plot line” section I broke it down scene by scene, for example, one “plot line” would be titled something like Bony stumbles into a warehouse and then underneath it I would write in depth about that scene, any dialogue that takes place and so on and so forth. In total, for the prologue I had about 6 different plot points.
  • I then moved down the section by adding Chapter one again, labeling it as such as the “book scene” title and giving an overview.

That is how I wanted to plot the darn book, simple, easy, that way when I’m writing the novel (using the handy dandy tool bar) its very easy for me to understand exactly whats next!
HOWEVER, upon finishing my tiny little start of an outline I realized in the manuscript section itself it said big and boldly, “Chapter one” and underneath it had different sections for the prologue I just mapped out, and the chapter 1 I just mapped out, all part of the manuscripts, “Chapter one”.
I truly don’t understand. All the pictures I’m seeing, all of the videos I’m watching, are showing me snapshots of other people plot points and there’s all these random blank spots, its not just one like extending from a point. I don’t understand any of this and I’m pretty amazed, as this is the first time I’ve come across something like this before. I have always plotted my novels on a large storyboard in my room covered in sticky notes and tacs, that’s how l like doing it, I don’t like plotting by subplots and plot points.

Can somebody please help me. I want to use this service, its seems really cool from everything I’ve heard of it, so can somebody please tell me how to plot my darn novel using this feature!?

I’m sorry for the long post, I wanted to give all the details I could.
Thank you so much for taking the time.

Best wishes,
Athena

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Hi Athena,

We have a good post here The Plot Function from @Chris about the plot function.

If this doesn’t cover what you were after, I’m sure we can still help out! Can you post a picture of what you’ve done? I’m a bit confused reading your description, but I’m sure once I see a pic of it I will get it :smiley:

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support has an excellent article on the plot grid too.

The only thing I can say that might help is Did you use the right choice for creating a plot. You can’t use scenes in the plot grid unless you make a plot grid with the manuscript not a general plot line.

I do not know if it defaults to the correct grid or not. I always make a new one anyway.

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I believe, one thing missing with Dabble functionalities is to first create scene cards from which a structure would built up automatically. It only works the other way around for now, so you have to create bocks, parts, chapters and scenes and then start filling in the scene cards from the plot grid.

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Athena, I second your emotion. My plots tend to move along a traditional character arc, like hero’s journey, three acts, etc. After trying to use the Dabble tool, I’ve given up on using it the way it’s designed.

Instead I used the “plot lines” along the top and plugged in the 10 key scenes of a traditional story arc. Then I place all the scene cards that occur after that key scene up to the next key scene under that header or “plot line.”

Essentially, I use these ten points to plot my story. All the scenes that fall under #1 line up under it vertically. All the scenes that after after #2 (Inciting Incident) fall under that vertically. Etc.

#1 - Setup.
#2 - Turning Point #1 (10%): inciting incident.
#3 - Pinch Point #1 (33% roughly).
#4 – Twist #1.
#5 – The Midpoint (50%).
#6 – Pinch Point #2 (62% roughly).
#7 – Twist #2.
#8 – Turning Point #4 (75%): Major setback.
#9 – Turning Point #5 (76-99%): The climax.
#10 – The Aftermath (90-99%): The wrap-up.

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Suffice to say, I’d love a tool that use a traditional plot structure. Until then, I’m using the grid improperly.

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Yeah same here. Makes no sense to me whatsoever. I gave up on using it. I think maybe I’m not smart enough to figure it out!

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Hey,
Thanks for responding, I haven’t been getting notifications so once I get home I’ll go through everyone’s responses, but I really like what you’ve done with their plot grid. I’m probably going to use it the same way.

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Here are some ideas.

When I’m doing really top down, rough outlining I will do it in a note first, with bullets and indents. Then when I get further, I either plot via adding scenes in the Manuscript section of plot cards in the Plot section.

If I really don’t know where my plot is going, I will build it as a mind map first. For example, here is early plot brainstorming on a MindMeister mind map.

Then either view your plot as plot cards in the plot grid view, which shows the subplots, or the plot line view, which only shows a single plot line.

I know you can opt not to have subplots.

@Loren_Moreno

I guess you can use the grid horizontally. But I think that makes you miss out on the subplot possibility. See a section of my plot below.

My main plot is on the left. And the other columns show my main character’s state of mind in those scenes. (I also have a column for the general feeling of the populace in my story)

You’ll also see that I added a blank row to separate scenes by chapters.

When I’m plotting with plot cards, I always have my left side nav scrolled up to the manuscript section, open all the chapters, so I can see the scenes and see how my adding the cards affects the collection of scenes in the manuscript.

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What I usually do is plot via scenes only. Then later I will start to drag those scenes into chapters and parts.

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I also have to say I really appreciate the Plot Line view, because I can immediately enter a lot of info about the scene before I write the scenes. This can include…

Setting
Characters
Dialogue
Action

And if you’re following Blake Snyder’s process, you can add your “+/-” and “><” elements.

I like than I can brainstorm the scene before I write it. For example, I know the scene will be a problem solving scene. So I will brainstorm on the card ideas for problems. Then after I choose a problem, I will brainstorm ways to solve the problem.

Often my notes will take on a conversational tone. General questions I’m asking. For example…

“What is Brian worried about? Is he afraid to go on this quest? If so, why? Is there something dangerous? Will the solution need a great sacrifice? If so, what kind. [Then I list a lot of options for a sacrifice]”

I like working this way because I can “write” stuff without really writing. Let my thoughts flow and don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, details, etc. And when I’m writing this casually, my inner editor bothers me less (or not at all) than when I’m actually typing on a manuscript page.

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I’ve gotten my head around the way that the plot grid is intended to be used, but I still find it frustrating. I’d love to be able to have more than one manuscript plot line, so that I can actually use it to reflect scenes that take place in different places, or from different POV, and have the cards tie back to the scenes themselves rather than making extra work for myself and writing things twice.
Obviously in this case column A and column B wouldn’t be able to both have scenes on the same row, there’d still only be one card per row to reflect the scenes happening one after another.

It may just be me, but being able to visually distinguish information by rearranging the cards in multiple dimensions, and having that information automatically reflected in the manuscript itself, is the entire point of using a digital plotting method. Otherwise I may as well use post-its on a wall.

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You could have a plot line called POV or Location and create a plot point with the POV or location on the card.

The plot card information is shown when you go to a scene to write it. All the plot points you have lined up for the scene appear on the right. And post-its on a wall are harder to carry around with you if you take your writing on a laptop (and eventually mobile).

I have plans for improvements to the plot grid to make it more useful. Labels, chapter demarkations, different plot line display, and some ease-of-use enhancements. There may also be new plot views in the future that let you work with just the scene cards (no sub-plots) to get the main beats of your story in place (like the Save the Cat!® board).

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This helped so much. Thank you.

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I agree with those confused the by the Plot Grid thing. It has been an exercise in frustration for me. Every which way I try it use it, it ends up confusing me and messing things up more than it helps. Frankly, I have given up on the feature and pretty much use Dabble as a nice, crisp word processor.
So for those who don’t get it, I’m right there with you.

(Please do not link me to the post “The Plot Function” by Chris, I’ve read it 15 times. :stuck_out_tongue:) Maybe I’m just dumb.

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