Friday, September 11, 2009

The Darger and Surplus Novel Diagrammed!


While I was writing The Dragons of Babel, I made dozens of diagrams to help plot out each section and chapter. For the Darger and Surplus novel, I've made almost none. I have no explanation for this, save that at each step, scene, and chapter to date, the immediate task has been pretty much clear to me.

However, I'm coming up on the (rather complicated) resolution, so I hastily scribbled the foreseeable plot onto a manila folder, in order to be sure that everyone was taken care of. The folder is shown above. Each circled name is a specific character. D is Darger, S is Surplus, and so on. The lines are their progression in time through the plot-to-come. Where lines cross, there are major resolutions of character -- declarations of passion, secrets revealed, deaths, and so on.

The question I'm asked most frequently about these diagrams is what function they serve for my writing. Well . . . they help me to visualize the plot as a whole, and this in turn accomplishes two things: (1) It makes obvious areas where I haven't developed the plot enough. Surplus, for example, at this point has nothing to do for a significant stretch of the novel. This will change. (2) The exercise brings up new ideas, both small details that should be included (the blue-and-white buildings) and larger elements (the fate of the artillery officer).

From top to bottom, the spin-off thoughts are:

It's like beating up a mushroom

Will this be the first
novel I write in which
chance plays no part?
{Retrofit Digger Queen?]
What becomes of
the artillery officer?
(Z. takes care of him)
Blue-and-white painted bldgs.

[The events at Terem]

[The Baron]
The Conspiracy
must be
stronger! (U &Ch)
How does Koschei die?
(Does he die? Can he?)
Is this complicated enough for Moscow
Where does Surplus flee? (To a woman, surely) (the Baronessa?)

Hold in Reserve
The whore
Sergei (who must reappear)
Diggers, etc. [Pale Folk]
embassy servants?
tobacco factor
merchant f/Suzdal
Kyril's band of brothers

*How would you like 2 go 2 school and get a proper education
Thank you, no, ma'am
Tough shit, girlie, I need eyes...

They had

Not all of these ideas will survive the writing process, of course. But that's how it looks like the novel will wrap up now.


1 comment:

uman said...

Can't wait. I've always enjoyed the stories. BTW, have you posted a list of the Darger/Surplus stories anywhere? I suspect I may have missed reading a couple of them.

Re: character charts, have you seen the XKCD ones for Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, 12 Angry Men and Jurassic Park? If not, it's here: