I've tried several approaches to actually hanging a plot on the fabric of the outline, which is largely dozens of pages of worldbuilding and continuity notes. This morning I finally hit what I wanted. I then promptly hied off to see Black Swan at the cinema, about which more anon. On returning, I broke out the whiteboard again to work through the implications of tracking characters across settings. I'm not having too much trouble managing everyone's agendas so far, but figuring out who is where when was getting dicey.
That produced a whiteboard that looked something like the flight of the bumblebee as rendered by a drunken John Venn.
© 2010 Joseph E. Lake, Jr. All rights reserved.
Drawing on my most recent whiteboarding experience, I promptly set about cleaning up the mess in an electronic file using the Drawing function of Google Docs. This created its own information management problems. the_child was moved to critique my visualizations, offering several cogent and useful suggestions which I incorporated. She also continues to ask excellent questions about deep background and character motivation. It's sort of weird, brainstorming high concept space opera with a thirteen-year-old, but she's pretty good at this.
My favorite bit was when I realized I'd had two characters appear in the narrative's midstream without knowing where they'd come from, in an astrographic sense. The following exchange ensued:
jaylake: "Where do they come from? Some other planet. I can't call it 'Some Other Planet."
the_child: "Just use a different language."
No wonder I keep this kid around.
Anyway, I seem to have the first third of the trilogy (Calamity of So Long a Life) diagrammed. This diagram itself broken down into something like a three-act structure. I now need to go back to my plot narrative, which only covers the first act of this visualization, and follow the structure I've laid out to the breakpoint between books one and two.
I will also observe once again that Fred is a heck of a lot smarter than I am...