I’ve always been more of a panster than a plotter. I just thought I was stuck with that mode in my brain. And it has caused me quite a bit of grief–I have thousands and thousands of words worth of broken plots, stories that went nowhere, and plot twists that have spun into convoluted knots.

I should have known that visual plotting would be my breakthrough.

I decided to try to sort out all the time-traveling in my story by laying the whole thing out in a Visio diagram. I am a business analyst, so flowcharts come quite naturally to me.

Check it out. Click to enbiggen.

PlotWebsThis is only a portion of a Visio that is now four pages wide. Four portrait-style pages, because I need the vertical length. Each swimline–the vertical boxes–represents a decade. The bubbles are laid out in chronological order, as they would occur in real time. The lines going every which-way represents four groups of time-travelers as they criss-cross the decades (and each other).

With this plotting style, I have come up with two of the three plotlines that I need to finish up for this book, and I am working on finishing up the third.

Now I just need to quit drawing lines and resume writing some words. 60,000 words down, 40,000 words to go!