A new toy

June 4th, 2016

Some people plot their novels at great length before they start to write, some don’t seem to do it at all. I’ve always been an enthusiastic pre-plotter, mainly because whenever I’ve tried to write a book without a detailed plot it has fallen into a big hole that I couldn’t dig myself out of. And besides, not having a good solid structure makes me way too anxious.

But I’m just discovering the benefits of plotting halfway through the process, rather than at the beginning.

I’ve said before that I’m writing the first Bodyguards book differently from anything I’ve ever done before. I did a bit of plotting before I started, but that soon gave way to writing the discovery draft, which has been a lot of fun.

Now however, I have to make sense of that draft, which is a hodgepodge of half-cooked ideas and less-than-half-cooked characters.

This is where the mid-way plotting comes in. And the new toy.

Up till now, I’ve either plotted by hand in my notebooks, or used Word, neither of which are much good. But now I have Curio!

[trumpets please]


I’ve been playing with this very nice bit of software for the last couple of days, making collages for my main characters. Here’s the one I did for Duckling:

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 7.51.04 am

And here’s the beginning of the plot:


[Notice how I very cunningly took a photo of this rather than a screenshot, so you can’t see the details. πŸ˜‰ ]

What I love about this is that I can colour-code the main characters, place them to one side if they’re by themselves or in the middle if they’re together, add ideas and pictures around the edges, and probably dozens of other things I haven’t discovered yet. Way better than anything I can do with a notebook or Word.

So I’m going to spend this week plotting. And getting my voice back.

Yes, I’ve been completely voiceless for the last week – couldn’t even squeak – which was an interesting experience. Apparently when you lose your voice that badly you’re not supposed to even whisper, because it puts too much of a strain on your larynx.

So I was reduced to signs.


Thanks to the internet the whole thing wasn’t too awful; I could still email people and use facebook, so didn’t feel as isolated as I would have done otherwise. And when someone left a voice message on my phone, I could email a friend and ask them to ring the caller for me.

Now I can talk again – very quietly and not for very long before my voice starts to disappear again. But I am definitely getting better, which is just as well, because I’ve got some workshops coming up in a few weeks.


9 thoughts on “A new toy

  1. Susannah says:

    If it’s a way of combing to-do lists, inspiration boards, notes, images and mindmaps, Curio looks like something I now ‘need’ as a solution to my current chaos! Sounds like it has inspired you seeing it all start to come together visually. Love reading about your creative process.

    1. Lian says:

      I really like it, Susannah. It wasn’t cheap, but as a way to organise thoughts it’s terrific. And fun, too, which always helps. πŸ™‚

  2. Caitlyn says:

    I can’t wait for the new book!!!!!!! I’ve read all your books now and I couldn’t put any of them down! Fetchers Song was so good it only took me two days to finish with some spare time at school to read… The Bodyguard series sounds interesting I can’t wait to see how it turns out… The character Duckling she seems very mysterious the fact that on the collage of says lies lies lies tells me that she’s hiding a few things… And if someone from the keepers are coming I can’t wait! Well anyway all sounds very exciting… Happy Writing

    1. Lian says:

      Hi Caitlyn, how nice to hear from you! I’m really glad you enjoyed Fetcher’s Song – you must be a fast reader to get through it so quickly.

      I’m hoping the Bodyguard series will be VERY interesting. And yes, that bit about lies on Duckling’s collage is very important! πŸ™‚

  3. Caitlyn says:

    Well I’m not necessarily a fast reader but it was so good I may have been hiding it under my desk while I was supposed to be listening to persuasive speeches from classmates… But we were kinda allowed to do that so I was so happy

    So there is definitely a mystery About something hidden in this story I can already tell as soon as it hits Australian shelves I’ll be reading…
    Hope you don’t get stuck any more on your story and that you’ll keep us posted on your progress… And by the way why couldn’t we have a screen shot so we get a clue I’m dying with anticipation!!!

    Hope to hear from you soon

    1. Lian says:

      Hiding my book under your desk while you’re supposed to be doing something else? An excellent idea, and very much in the spirit of my stories. πŸ˜‰ I don’t seem to be getting any major stuckness at the moment – just the usual small ones where a walk on the beach or a long shower is enough to unstick me. So I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going. And yes, I’ll definitely keep you posted on progress! With the occasional teaser to whet your appetite even more. πŸ™‚

      1. Caitlyn says:

        Oh Lian, your killing me…
        It’s good you don’t have any stuckness left means the book will come out sooner and I can get back to reading the books I LOVE! So, enjoy the rest of your day…


        1. Lian says:

          Thanks Caitlyn. Not meaning to kill you. Don’t want to lose any of my fine readers. πŸ˜‰

  4. Caitlyn says:

    Well don’t worry, you haven’t lost me… it’s just so hard to wait for the new book!!! ?
    It sounds really amazing!!! ?

    Keep up the good work! And if you ever get stuck just remember the beach is always there for you ?

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