I have a confession to make. I have a thing--yes, that sort of thing--for graph paper. In fact, I’m a bit of a graph paper trollop. I love the basic 8x11 size and have about three pads of it on hand at all times, but I also have little flings on the side with 11 x 17 size graph paper and the enormous 17 x 22 size as well, although I admit to indulging in that last size only a couple of times a year.
You can get a pretty clear indication on how overwhelmed I’m feeling by the size of the graph paper I’m using. When I pull out the 17 x 22, you know I’m sinking fast and frantically trying to grasp all the elements of the plot that I’m struggling with.
So how on earth did a writer develop such a whopping crush on graph paper, of all things?
It began small at first, as most addictions do, with an occasional pad of 8 x 12. There was something very special about those little squares, all neatly lined up. There is something freeing about not being constricted by lines on a page. It makes the writing itself more visual, and it allows for more clearly designated groupings.
Sometimes I draw actual diagrams.
Other times, I lay out more sequential time lines.
Sometimes I just scribble things down madly and randomly and then play with the connections. This is usually in the most early stages of the drafting process.
Other times I’ll measure out careful sections of the sheet and list scene log lines so I can “see” the plot at a glance.
Or create a master character graph so I can get a handle on all the character arcs, beats of internal growth for each by act number, so I can be sure I’m making a logical progression and get a sense of the different growth arcs intersect.
Or plot arcs:
Colored pens are a must, too, but that’s the subject of a whole ‘nother post.