I came up with the idea for my very first novel on the drive to my parents about three and a half hours from our home. I could almost see the heroine and the hero and what they wanted. She was substituting for her brother on a underground railroad run. She gets caught and all she wants is to go home.
The hero, a younger brother, doesn’t want to defend his brother’s slave ownership and is appalled at the length he goes to get his “property” back. He meets the heroine, saves her from one of the slavers, and falls madly.
He gets hurt in a battle and loses his memory. She starts home. And the story revolves around a necklace.
So, how on earth was I going to get all this down in some kind of order? My DH is a Civil Engineer and works with time lines all the time planning jobs. He thought it might help me to use one so we sat down together and discussed time lines, how they work and how work jobs get scheduled so that plumbers aren’t falling over the backhoes machines.
A couple of days later, he brought me a length of drawing paper and I drew a line. We sat down together and all the things that happened to the heroine I put above the line, and what happened to the hero went on the bottom line. Then I used another piece of paper to line the heroine’s problems, successes and failures in order. I did the same with the hero’s problems.
It was the start. Tomorrow I’ll describe how that time line has developed and what I do now. I do have to warn you. If you didn’t like to diagram in high school. this may not be the plotting method best for you.