Midsummer's Bottom plot sheet

August 5, 2019

This is a page of chapter notes that I wrote for Midsummer's Bottom. I often get asked (usually by budding authors) how I go about plotting my novels. There's no one simple answer, because I approach them in different ways. I don't have a set formula for creating a story -- I go with what feels right each time round. Sometimes I'll jot down only a few brief notes and write on the fly. Other times I'll plot obsessively in advance and try to map out as much of the novel as I can before I sit down to write.

Midsummer's Bottom falls into the latter category. For those who haven't read it, it's a fantastical farce, in which a group of bad actors stage a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's a very tricksy plot, with lots of characters and lots of complicated relationships, and lots of things go wrong in it when it comes time to stage the play, leading to all sorts of wild improvisations. Farce is actually very difficult to write, as everything needs to work very well behind the scenes in order for the visible chaos at the forefront to succeed. So I wrote up lots of notes for this book, including this handy one-page guide to everything that was going on, so that I wouldn't get lost along the way and wind up as confused and directionless as my cast of characters!

If you haven't read the book, I wouldn't recommend looking into the notes in great details, especially further down the page where there are spoilers galore. But even a brief

 

skim will give you a pretty good idea of just how work progressed in this instance, and perhaps -- if you're one of those budding authors who often ask about these matters -- it will help give you an idea of how to go about plotting your own complicated little masterpiece! (Although, as I already said, I plot in lots of different ways. I don't believe there's only one way to write a book, and I always stress that there is no *correct* way -- it's all about trying different things and finding a way or ways that work for YOU.)

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